Mugabe aide appeals against 90-day jail term
HARARE – Deputy chief secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Ray Ndhlukula, has appealed in the Supreme Court against a High Court order directing his 90-day imprisonment for contemptuously defying an order to stop evicting a Figtree farmer.
Ndhlukula prodded ahead with efforts to evict David Connolly from his Centenary Farm despite a High Court order stopping him from doing so.
Ndhlukula was slapped with the 90-day jail term after he was found guilty of defying the court order.
He is embroiled in a fierce battle with Connolly for control of Subdivision A of Centenary, which is located in the Bulilima District.
This followed claims that Ndhlukula’s workers occupied the farm and disrupted farming operations despite High Court judge Maxwell Takuva’s June 2014 interim order stopping him from taking occupation of the farm.
Following the workers’ actions, Conolly launched a successful application, which resulted in Ndhlukula being found in contempt of court.
In his Supreme Court appeal, Ndhlukula said that Connolly, through his company J C Connolly and Sons (Private) Limited, which he cited as the first respondent, misled the court when it secured the interim relief.
Ndhlukula also cited officer commanding Matabeleland South Province Happymore Sigauke, as the second respondent.
He said that Connolly was not the lawful owner of the farm since it was gazetted by the government.
“The farm was offered to the appellant (Ndhlukula) and he accepted the same. It constitutes lawful authority to hold, use and occupy gazetted land,” Ndhlukula said.
He said that pursuant to the offer, he gave Conolly a 90-day notice of his intention to occupy the land.
According to court papers, Connolly challenged the decision by filing an urgent chamber application, interdicting Ndhlukula from occupying the property.
Ndhlukula, who is President Robert Mugabe’s top aide, told the court that the court papers were served on his gardener who could not do anything, since he was away, resulting in a default judgment being granted in Conolly’s favour.
“Upon expiry of the notice period given by appellant, the first respondent (J C Connolly and Sons (Private) Limited) proceeded to obtain a contempt of court order…on the purported basis that appellant was in breach of the interdict,” he said.
He claimed to be the lawful occupier of the property.
“It is abundantly clear that the court a quo misdirected itself in concluding that first respondent was entitled to remain on gazetted land until such time it had been convicted, and an eviction order issued to its effect,” Ndhlukula said.
He said that the land belonged to the State and as such Connolly should not be allowed to remain in occupation of the property.
“It is submitted that the court order granting first respondent interdictory relief and the contempt of court order are being used as a ‘back door’ by the said party for the purposes of obtaining ‘lawful authority’ in order to continue in occupation and use of State land notwithstanding the provisions of Section 3 of the Gazetted Land (Consequential Provisions) Act,” Ndhlukula argued.
“Appellant cannot be prohibited from doing that which is lawful. He is empowered by statutory law to hold, use and occupy the land in dispute. As such he cannot be held to be in contempt of court for conduct that is lawful.”
(Visited 23 times, 1 visits today)