BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
A SENIOR official in the Foreign Affairs ministry has been accused of blocking the construction of a secondary school in Goromonzi district, Mashonaland East province.
This has resulted in learners at Binder Farm and the surrounding community walking an estimated 10km to the nearest schools in Melfort.
Nicholas Hatidani, the owner of Binder Farm, said his troubles started when he sold 14 hectares of land to the government official, Julie Marangwanda, in 2012 to raise funds for the construction of a secondary school at the property.
Hatidani (86) said Marangwanda went on to grab 30ha of his farm, part of which includes a site where the school was supposed to be constructed.
“On protesting against the illegal occupation, I was arrested in 2015 and taken to the Harare Magistrates’ Court on charges of selling State land,” the elderly farmer, who bought the land from Robert and Peter Rundle in 1981, said in an interview.
“I was in remand prison for two weeks at the insistence of the State, despite the magistrate raising concerns over my advanced age. I was nearly 80 years old then.
“The State prosecutor opposed bail, arguing that I was a dangerous criminal who was illegally selling State land.”
The matter was later dismissed at the High Court.
Hatidani accused Marangwanda of using a forged offer letter from then Lands and Resettlement minister Herbert Murerwa to lay claim to his property.
“The offer letter has several loopholes, such as the date was misspelled, and the letter does not explain the size of the land that Marangwanda is supposed to occupy, issues that each offer letter has. I am now living in fear that my entire farm will be illegally possessed by her,” he added.
Repeated efforts to obtain a comment from Marangwanda and officials from the Lands ministry in Mashonaland East since Monday have been unsuccessful.