THIRTEEN illegal settlers from Chemagora Farm 17 in Gokwe, who are accused of brutally murdering the farm owner Mr George Jongwe last week, have appeared in court.

Thulani Ncube (38), Trynos Dube (42), Doubt Nyoni (35), Ronald Ncube (43), Tannel Nyoni (64), Mudhomeni Nzungu (54), Qondani Ndlovu (32), Chawana Dimingo (47), Joel Mbano (69), Andres Ndlovu (43), Mehluli Nyathi (19), Michael Nyoni (47) and Penias Sibanda (age not given) appeared before Gokwe magistrate Mr Musaiwona Shotgame.

The court heard that Mr Jongwe’s worker Joachim Munekani, who was also allegedly attacked in the skirmishes, is battling for his life at a Harare hospital, where his condition is said to be critical.

The illegal settlers were not asked to plead and were remanded in custody to February 18 for confirmation of their warned and cautioned statements.

It is the State case that on February 1 at around 4am, Mr Jongwe teamed up with his son Christopher and Munekani to allegedly effect a citizen’s arrest on illegal settlers within their Chemagora Farm 17, Gokwe South. The court heard that Mr Jongwe was armed with a 12 bore shotgun; his son an axe and Munekani a pellet gun.

The trio allegedly approached Doubt, Nzungu and Dimingo, who were sleeping together at Tannel’s illegal homestead within the farm and “arrested” them.

The court heard that this did not go down well with other accused persons and their accomplices who are still at large, who had also illegally occupied the farm.

The illegal settlers allegedly armed themselves with knobkerries, axes and attacked Mr Jongwe, his son and Munekani.During the skirmishes, Mr Jongwe allegedly shot Givemore Nyoni on the abdomen with his 12 bore shotgun and he died instantly. The accused persons and their accomplices, the court heard, allegedly assaulted Mr Jongwe, his son and Munekani several times with axes and knobkerries all over their bodies.

Christopher managed to escape from the scene and made a report to the police.

The scene was attended by the police, who ferried Mr Jongwe and Munekani to hospital. Mr Jongwe was pronounced dead on arrival at Zhombe Hospital, while Munekani was referred to West End Clinic in Harare.

Investigations were made, leading to the arrest of the accused persons. Mr Tinashe Wazvaremhaka appeared for the State.CHRONICLE