Victor Maphosa,Herald Correspondent

Twelve suspected land barons in Harare accused of duping desperate home seekers and illegally selling land have been arrested as police intensify its operation targeted at weeding out illegal sales.

National Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed the on-going operation in a statement.

“Police have stepped up investigations on all reported cases of fraud involving illegal sale of land in Harare. This has seen a lot of suspects from different housing cooperatives being arrested and taken to court,” said Asst Comm Nyathi

“From Vanhuvatema Housing Co-operative those who were arrested are: Andrew Mugomezi (35), and Tendai Mutukwa (36 years). One suspect is now deceased while two are still at large.

“Those from Epworth Mission Development Trust are Robert Tinaye Chihota (70), Stanford Shadreck Nyemba (72), David Stanley Chidenga (75) and Thomas Musandiri (67) who were all denied bail.”

He said those who were arrested from Pungwe Chimurenga Housing Cooperative are Conciliar Dzitiro (55), Wellington Ngenje (35), Privilege Murebwa (36) and Blessing Matwaya (30), while Jaricha Edmon (56) and Jane Mabota (66) from Hannah Housing Co-operative were also arrested.

Asst Comm Nyathi said the operation targeting land barons is an ongoing exercise and urged members of the public who were duped to immediately approach the police for help.

“This operation is an on-going exercise targeting land barons who have been duping unsuspecting desperate people. We also urge members of the public who were duped by any land baron to go to the nearest police station immediately and make a report,” he said .

He assured the public that police will not rest until all those involved in illegally selling land are brought to book.

“We are also aware that some of the suspects will try to resist arrest. We are urging them to comply with the police as the operation continues.

“The Zimbabwe Republic Police assures members of the public that the law will certainly take its course on anyone who is involved in criminal acts of pegging, parcelling out land and offering it to people fraudulently,” said Asst Comm Nyathi.

He said home seekers should approach relevant local authority offices, Government departments and institutions to acquire land through the correct channels.