By Wisdom Mumera
Businessman Billy Rautenbach has thrown Aspindale residents into shock after his company Marimba Properties this week produced an affidavit, allegedly done by the Acting Chief Registrar of Deeds, asserting his ownership of their stands.
The document brings a new dimension to the on-going land saga and threatens the continued stay of some residents who have refused to pay for their stands to Marimba Properties alleging that they own the land.
According to Elizabeth Nyagura, the Chief Registrar who deposited the affidavit, the title deeds to Stand 48 Aspindale Park are in the name of Marimba Properties, a company owned by Mr Rautenbach.
“On the 28th March 2003, a Certificate of Registered Title was issued in terms of Section 38 of the Deeds Registries Act (Chapter 20:05) in favour of Marimba Residential Properties Limited, under Certificate of Registered Title Number 1525/2003, after it was noted that both the Deeds Office copy and owner’s copy of the Deed of Transfer No 3928/96 were lost or destroyed.
“This was the last transaction in relation to Stand 48 Aspindale Park Township of Subdivision A of Aspindale Park of Subdivision A and B of Lochinvar measuring 100, 3134 hectares.
Nyagura goes on to state that, “in light of the aforesaid and based on our records, I can confirm that Stand 48 Aspindale Park Township of Subdivision A and B of Lochinvar measuring 100, 3134 hectares is duly owned and registered in the name of Marimba Residential Properties Limited”.
Residents in the area have been contesting the ownership of the stands by Rautenbach alleging that they have offer letters for the same land from the government.
Some of the cooperatives which include Joshua Nkomo, Wadzanai and Leopold Takawira Housing Cooperatives have previously been to court over the same issue.
Marimba Properties, which came and asserted its ownership of the land after the cooperatives had already built, has ordered that those who want stands should pay nearly US$50 per square metre for the same stands.
The residents have however been refusing and saying the land belongs to them through a government offer letter.
The resultant differences have previously resulted in running battles between residents and members of the ZRP deployed there, allegedly at the instigation of Rautenbach.
Norton legislator Temba Mliswa, commenting on latest development dismissed the affidavit and said it should be scrutinised by the courts.
“It was attained through fraudulent means and must be produced before a court of law. It can’t be used to overturn a court judgement in favour of the residents”.
“As a result it and the messages from the Henkiki Investment Whatsapp business account must be ignored with the contempt they deserve.
“The court has ruled and any other purported claims must go through the court process for validation. Residents, remain steadfast. The High Court is superior to this affidavit and why wasn’t it produced then to argue their case,” he queried.
Residents in 48 and 49 Aspindale, opposite Kambuzuma, were initially settled there through a ZANU PF project led by the then Minister of Local Government Saviour Kasukuwere.
However ever since the turn of political fortunes in 2017 that has seen the emergence of July Moyo as the new Minister responsible things have changed as their ownership of the land has been questioned.
Mliswa has since accused a litany of political figures who include Harare State Minister Oliver Chidawu, July Moyo and Police Commissioner Godwin Matanga of working with Rautenbach to illegally disenfranchise the residents of their land.