A Bulawayo High Court on Thursday released 12 villagers from the troubled Maleme Farm in Matabeleland South province, who were facing charges of kidnapping a worker of a state security agent, Rodney Mashingaidze.
The agent had taken over the farm together with its infrastructure that includes a vocational college, church and lodges.
Vice President Phelekele Mphoko overturned the farm’s acquisition after pressure from villagers, civic organizations and political parties in what has been described by some in the region as an example of people power.
Said Mphoko then: “The outcome of the meeting is that if the people, the general community is benefiting from the project then they are a responsibility of the government and then it’s decided that the people, the community, should continue with their projects as compared to Ndlovu or Khumalo taking over.”
The 12 villagers were accused of kidnapping Mashingaidze’s worker but they argued that they were effecting a citizen’s arrest after the worker was seen allegedly stealing solar panels from the farm.
However, Thursday judge Nokuthula Moyo found the villagers not guilty after the complainant failed to identify the alleged kidnappers.
We reached their lawyer, Tanaka Muganyi who gave us details of what transpired in court.