Freeman Razemba Crime Reporter
Police yesterday questioned 38 suspected land barons in Hatcliffe, Harare, as the number of those who have appeared in court in the last few weeks for duping people and illegally selling State and council land in the capital has risen to 50.
The 38 suspects were reported by their victims after they discovered that the land sold to them for residential stands was not properly acquired. Most of the 50 suspects, who have so far appeared at the Harare Magistrates’ Courts, were granted bail ranging between $200 and $3 000.
The 38 chairpersons of dubious housing co-operatives reported at Hatcliffe Police Post and were questioned by a team of officers that was deployed from Harare Central Police Station.
Sources said after being questioned, they were told by police to return on Monday with evidence on the status of the land they were parcelling out. When The Herald visited the police post, more than 10 police officers were awaiting the arrival for some of the chairpersons.
Zanu-PF Harare North legislator Cde Tongesai Mudambo, who was also at the police post, confirmed that the chairpersons were questioned and expressed concern over land barons operating in the area.
“I am happy that there is a team of police officers which has been assigned to look into these issues,” he said. “This is a good development and it is my hope that the law will take its course against some of these land barons who were illegally selling land and duping people of their money.”
Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Cde Saviour Kasukuwere visited the area last month and expressed concern over the operations of land barons.
“The minister visited the area two weeks ago and he said he was not happy with the situation,” said Cde Mudambo. “He expressed concern over these land barons.” Cde Mudambo said most of the land barons had for the past few years been identifying open spaces and started selling land to the people.
He said most of the land barons operated unregistered housing co-operatives and were not allocated land to sell to the people. It emerged that some of the land that was being parcelled out by the land barons was reserved for schools, clinics, shopping centres and churches.
The land barons in the area were reported to have been selling land for prices above $2 000 each. Cde Mudambo said most of the land barons, who included politicians, were using Zanu-PF’s name to enrich themselves. Officials from the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing and the Harare City Council also visited Hatcliffe yesterday.
Last month, chief police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba called upon all those who were duped by land barons to report their cases. More than 8 000 people had as of last week filed cases with the police implicating land barons in various parts of Harare.
Government has intensified the fight against land barons, politicians and cooperative chairpersons illegally selling State and council land to unsuspecting home seekers and instructed police to start the probe into such land deals.