The Blantyre Magistrate’s Court yesterday set November 3 2016 for judgement in a case involving People’s Land Organisation (PLO) leader Vincent Wandale and his co-accused Tendai Nsikita.
The two, who are answering three counts of conspiracy to commit a misdemeanour, unauthorised use of land and criminal trespass, were arrested in connection with an incident that happened on September 1 2016 at Conforzi Tea Estate where hundreds of villagers invaded the estate and started sharing land for permanent settlement and cultivation. They claimed bonafide ownership of the land.
Senior resident magistrate Thokozani Soko has since given the State and the defence up to October 27 2016 to simultaneously make their submissions of summaries of the case for judgement.
Earlier in the day, the court paraded Ganizani Nkhoma as court witness to give a brief history of Conforzi Tea Estate.
Nkhoma told the court that his grandparents told him that I.Conforzi, which sold the estate to Conforzi Plantations Limited, the current owners of the estate, never found any settlement on the land when it bought it in 1907.
He also told the court that village heads from areas surrounding the estate control all five graveyards found in the estate.
However, defence lawyer Michael Goba Chipeta objected to Nkhoma’s testimony regarding the history of the land, saying it was based on hearsay as he was not there and had no details of how white settlers acquired the land from indigenous people.
Chipeta further said the defence argument is based on Section 8 of the Penal Code which is clear on bona fide claim of rights.
The section states that a person is not criminally responsible in respect of an offence relating to property if the act done or omitted to be done by him with respect to property was done in the exercise of an honest claim of right and without intentions to defraud.
About eight witnesses from both the State and defence sides have been paraded in the court since the beginning of the case on September 5.
Twenty accused persons in the case were given suspended sentences after they were convicted on their own plea of guilty.