CIO Boss harasses Maleme villagers at night .
The CIO boss continued to harass villagers last night in Matopo after they remained defiant in resisting the Maleme farm takeover. The Maleme Ranch farm manager, Mr Phathani Sibanda was reported to have escaped a midnight raid by Rodney Mashingaidze and his gang. A source narrated how Mr Sibanda who is in hiding in a safe place escaped in a movie style when Mashingaidze arrived with a group people in Nissan NP300, white double cab truck without registration numbers as the farm workers were loading chickens into truck. Upon noticing the approaching visitors, Mr Sibanda became suspicious and took cover in a nearby bush where he could hear Mashingaidze harassing the workers accusing them of stealing his chickens and stated that they were looking for Phathani Sibanda.
He also narrated that they ransacked the place and harassed the truck driver, trying to force him to show them where Sibanda was but the driver refused and Mashingaidze upon realizing that his efforts were proving futile to locate Mr Sibanda, they left and drove towards the power house where solar panels are kept.
Mr Sibanda managed to negotiate his way at night and sought refuge at some homestead in the village and got a lift to Bulawayo at dawn. He currently in hiding with his family.
Meanwhile the Maleme 12 who are charged with kidnapping a Mashingaidze worker when they went to guard the ranch against occupation were today granted free bail by the Magistrate, Mr Ntonga. The state had not opposed a bail application by the accused’s lawyer Mr Tanaka Muganyi but submitted stringent conditions such as a $300 bail, surrendering of all travel documents, not setting a foot at Shalom.
Mr Muganyi objected to the states proposal citing that the accused are senior citizens of ages between 45 and 72 and cannot be a flight risk. The presiding magistrate questioned the logic behind the states proposal and instead granted the accused persons free bail, not to interfere with state witness at their place of residence, which happens to be the farm house located about 200m away from the farming activities. The trial will continue on Thursday 19 March 2015 at 8.00 am at Kezi magistrate courts. The villagers have pledged to continue resisting the farm takeover despite efforts by security apparatus to intimidate them.
This came after the 08 March community meeting that was supposed to be addressed by Vice president Phelekezela Mphoko on the Maleme ranch occupation saga but the vice president did not turn up leaving villagers seething with anger for betrayal as it was reported that he was the one who called for the meeting. Villagers threatened to take matters on their own hands if the government is acting on the ranch occupation.