Eagle Tanning School case takes new twist

LOWVELD Leather Products owner Godfrey Gonese yesterday dismissed reports that he was charging US$60 rentals to teachers at Eagle Tanning Primary School at his Mlanje Farm in Marondera.

In a statement, Gonese said he was the owner of the school and that he only charged teachers fees for water and electricity because he was trying to replace his infrastructure which was vandalised.

“Eagle Tannery, a hide to leather factory, with a capacity to employ 120 people, with a small shoe factory attached to it, is built on Mlanje Farm while two schools, Eagle Primary and Eagle Secondary, built to cater specifically for children of Eagle Tannery employees resident on the property, are on Clifton Farm,” Gonese said.

“Children from surrounding farms have over the years been accommodated at these schools, in express agreement with the farm owners, as social responsibility by our company. Therefore, both the tannery business and the two schools belong to Lowveld Leather Products (Pvt) Ltd, not to government, as erroneously believed. The schools were never handed over to the government,” he said.

Gonese accused an Italian national only named as Marconati of illegally occupying his farm for 18 years with the assistance of “corrupt” government officials.

“Clifton and Mlanje of Roraima farms, both measuring a total of 240ha, were bought from Belmont Leather (Pvt) Ltd by my company, Lowveld Leather Products (Pvt) Ltd in 1996, as registered in title deeds 0007727/97. Godfrey Gonese is the 100% owner of Lowveld Leather Products (Pvt) Ltd Company,” he said.

“Lowveld Leather Products (Pvt) Ltd leased the tannery only to an Italian national for two years (2003 and 2004). When I came back to reoccupy my property, the government denied me both occupation and use on the mistaken belief of a lie peddled by the Italian that he had bought my farms. This fraud was only proved on February 24, 2020 through a High Court Order HC 5530/19.”

Gonese alleged that Marconati has been harassing him for 18 years with the assistance of the corrupt government officials despite the High Court order.

He alleged that over the years, the Italian’s workers and some teachers vandalised infrastructure, which includes farm fences, water piping, electricity reticulation, houses, gum plantations and tannery plant parts and scrap and also looted the farm and factory.

“There is need now to reconstruct this infrastructure while those residents continue to get drinking water and electricity. The company, therefore, has seen it appropriate to levy occupants a rental to cover at least current consumption of electricity and water while it is investing in rehabilitating the vandalised infrastructure,” Gonese said.

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