by Richard Muponde

TWELVE Chipinge machete-wielding villagers allegedly attacked a messenger of court and his crew, leaving one of them critically injured.

The villagers were being evicted after illegally settling at a private commercial farm.

This came to light during the initial appearance of Shadreck Simango (28) and 11 others before Chipinge magistrate, Joshua Nembaware facing charges of public violence or alternatively contempt of court in contravention of section 72 (a) of the Magistrates Court Act.

They were remanded to January 20 for trial.

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Prosecutor, Chipo Nyasha told the court that on November 6 last year, messenger of court Gibson Maeka served Jervas Musiya and 31 other illegal settlers with an eviction order from Smithfield Farm which they had illegally occupied.

The order had been granted at Chipinge Magistrates Court.

Evictions were provisionally set for November 19 and the following day Maeka and officials from his office failed to carry out the evictions after they arrived at the farm and found the illegal settlers absent.

A week later he sought police escort to go to the farm.

While executing his duties together with hired employees from his office, the 12, acting in common purpose with others who are still at large, allegedly confronted them armed with an assortment of weapons including machetes.

They surrounded Maeka and his team together with the police, stopping them from carrying out the evictions. They incited and encouraged each other to attack Maeka and the situation became riotous.

Simango, who was armed with a knobkerrie allegedly charged towards the team telling his colleagues that police do not shoot at citizens.

This resulted in Christopher Chipadze allegedly hitting a messenger of court employee, Zachariah Mafuta, with a pestle once on the head and he became unconscious.

He was rushed to Chipinge District Hospital where he was admitted in critical condition.

The 12 were arrested, but their accomplices managed to escape and they are still at large.