Bennett demands Judge's farm inventory in defamation dase

Harare, – Tormented Movement for Democratic Change Treasurer Roy Bennett has challenged High Court Judge Justice Chinembiri Bhunu to disclose the number of farms which were allocated to the Judge in a test case to the chaotic land reform exercise.

Bennett, who is being sued by Bhunu wrote to the Judge’s lawyers requesting to be furnished with an inventory of farms that he has laid claim over the past 10 years when President Robert Mugabe’s previous government embarked on a land grab exercise.

“Has plaintiff (Bhunu) been allocated a farm under the land reform programme? Plaintiff is required to set out, all farms allocated to him with full particulars thereof, duration of occupation of each farm and current farm occupied by the Plaintiff (Bhunu). Have the owners of such farms been fully compensated for the farms?” reads part of the letter which was written to Bhunu by Bennett’s lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa.

Besides requesting for the number of farms that were allocated to the Judge Bennett also wants Bhunu to inform him whether he has received any other remuneration, perks and others benefits from “any quarter other than his employer.”

The former legislator who is currently exiled in South Africa wants Bhunu to furnish him with details of the place where the alleged interview between himself and British journalist took place.

Bhunu, who in May acquitted Bennett on terror related charges, is suing the former legislator for $1 million in damages for defamation.

Bhunu alleges that the damages resulted from wrongful and defamatory words which were uttered by Bennett during an interview which the former coffee farmer allegedly granted to a reporter from The Guardian newspaper of the United Kingdom, on or around May 9, 2010 before he delivered his judgment acquitting the former Chimanimani legislator.

Bhunu’s lawyers alleged that the remarks attributed to Bennett were published on May 24, 2010 by an internet-based publication, the Zimbabwe Guardian Newspaper, which they claim enjoys wide distribution on account of being available on the internet free of charge.

Bhunu acquitted Bennett on May 10, 2010 after ruling that the State’s prosecution team, led by Attorney General Johannes Tomana, had failed to establish a prima facie case against the former Chimanimani Member of Parliament.

Tomana later appealed against Justice Bhunu’s decision to acquit Bennett. Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku recently reserved judgment after hearing submissions from both the State and Bennett’s lawyers in relation to the appeal. – Radio VOP