A village head in Masvingo had faced harassment from the Acting Chief of the area for a long time. The man was appointed village head in 2009 while the Acting Chief was appointed in 2011 following the death of the previous incumbent.

The Acting Chief went on an extortion spree. At first he demanded one cow, a goat, a cock and $50 from the village head, who gave in to his demands. On a later date, the village head’s daughter-in-law hosted an MDC-T meeting at her homestead resulting in the village head being “penalised” and he was ordered to pay US$450 or one cow. He paid the US$450.

On another occasion, the relentless chief ordered the village head to pay one cow, one goat and $50 for a crime purportedly committed by his 19-year-old son. He paid the “fine” in full.

On yet another occasion, an elderly woman died and when the village head went to advise the Chief of her death, he was ordered to pay $10, ironically, for notifying the Chief about the death. During the burial he informed mourners that he had been made to pay $10 by the chief. He was then summoned to the Chief’s court and slapped with damages for defamation by the Chief who ordered him to pay one cow.

Feeling the pinch, the village head asked for the LC4 forms to make an appeal against the ruling, but the Chief refused. Apart from the extortionate fines, the chief actively interfered with the village head’s duties.

Fortunately for the village head, he attended a one-day LRF community leaders’ workshop conducted by Masvingo paralegal Anthony Dehwe. Armed with knowledge from the workshop, he approached the LRF for legal assistance.

The LRF tried to engage the chief but he arrogantly refused. The LRF then made an application for a peace order and an interdict against the chief to prevent him from harassing the village head and illegally attaching his property. The court order was duly granted at Masvingo Magistrates Court. The village head, in the evaluation form, indicated that he was very happy with the LRF’s assistance. Before the case, he said he thought a chief was above the law and he implored the LRF to assist other people in similar situations.