By Alex Bell
SW Radio Africa
17 October 2013
A game farm in Beitbridge, which has for years been the target of repeated, illegal invasions by a group of war vets, has this week come under siege again.
The Denlynian farm, owned by South African citizen Ian Ferguson, has been battling with land invaders for over a decade. In 2010, a group of war vets and a gang of invaders led the slaughter of scores of animals on the property, before stripping the farm of most of its assets.
Ferguson, who bought the property almost 30 years ago, finally succeeded in securing a court order confirming that he and his family are the legal occupants of the farm. He also received a High Court order to secure the ejection of any land invaders and for the past 18 months there has been relative peace and stability on the property.
But this week, the same war vets, Rambelane Choene, Steven Mohadi (the younger brother of ZANU PF minister Kembo Mohadi), Julias Seziba, Juel Muleya, and many others returned. It’s understood the group have threatened the staff on the property as well as clients at the farm’s hunting lodge.
When local police were called, they ignored the illegal farm invaders and instead turned their attention to the visiting hunting clients, demanding to see their passports and permits. The police eventually left after ordering the hunters to leave.
The invasion of Denlynian this week comes as a ZANU PF government minister has said that no South African citizens have ever been affected by his party’s land grab campaign.
Deputy Minister Samuel Undenge told a visiting South African government official that there were “no cases of South Africans who have lost farms,” adding: “If you have any specific cases of farmers who lost their land during the reform programme bring them to our attention and we will be more than happy to respond and give the necessary information.”
The minister has since been heavily criticised for ‘blatantly lying’ about the situation in an attempt to attract investment from across the border. An estimated 500 South African farmers are said to have lost their land and livelihoods as a result of the land grab.
This latest invasion at the Ferguson owned property meanwhile further disputes Undenge’s comments. But there has been no word from the South African government about the incidents.
The South African Embassy in Harare have previously said that the farm is not protected under a Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA), signed by South Africa and Zimbabwe in 2009 and ratified in 2010. According to this agreement any property which was gazetted for acquisition before 2009 is not protected under this BIPPA. Denlynian was gazetted in 2007.