A community leader in Chilonga, Chiredzi District, who is leading local people in opposing the setting up of a lucerne farming project in the area was arrested on Wednesday and appeared in court on Thursday.
Livison Chukuti’s arrest is viewed by the Shangaan community as persecution for their resistence to the lucerne grass project.
The project will displace thousands of Shangaan families from their ancestral land.
Chikutu was charged with inciting the community to commit violence and disorderly conduct.
He appeared before Chiredzi magistrate Misheck Brian Munyaradzi and was granted $5 000 bail. He will appear before the same court on 29 June.
Chituku is being represented by lawyer Rita Chakauya of Muzenda and Chitsama Legal Attorneys.
Speaking to The NewsHawks after his court appearance, Chikutu said he was picked up by detectives from the police Law and Order section. He said:
I was picked up by detectives near my home on Wednesday and l was shocked by the development which came some weeks after a protest by villagers at the chief’s place.
I was not involved in mobilising the community, the charges are frivolous and I am denying them.
Detectives asked me to pay a fine and I refused, they released me in the evening after the intervention of Chakauya who offered me free legal services.
I appeared before the court on Thursday morning and the magistrate granted me bail.
I was touched by the support shown by community leaders from Chilonga who came to the court in large numbers and it is clear that we will not compromise our position against the project by Dendairy in our area.
Meanwhile, a traditional leader from Chilonga told The NewsHawks that the arrest of Chikutu will negatively impact the ongoing engagements between Dendairy, the Government and the Shangaan community. Said the traditional leader:
There was a time our area was flooded with mysterious people whom we suspected to be state security agents and that was meant to intimidate us.
This latest development which saw the arrest of Chikutu is persecution targeted at individuals who are leading the Shangaan people in resisting the lucerne project which will affect our livelihoods.
We were evicted from Triangle and Hippo Valley to pave way for sugarcane farming, but we were not compensated and only a few of us were given sugarcane plots.
We cannot allow this project to take off at our expense again since the investor and government are not giving us all details about the project.