By Alex Bell
15 August 2011
Another farming family in Nyazura has faced attack by a mob of land invaders this weekend, becoming the fourth family in the area to be forced off their farm since March.
Dolf and Alida du Toit from Excelsior farm were on Friday night barricaded in their home after a group of thugs, led by self confessed CIO agent Onisimas Makwengura, launched a violent attack on them. On Friday night, the couple faced an all-night siege, with the mob smashing the windows of the farm house in an effort to get inside. On Saturday the mob then tried getting into the house through the roof, and Dolf was forced to fire warning gun shots to keep them away.
The ‘jambanja’ then continued on Sunday, with the mob using a tractor to pull off the security gates barring their entrance to the house. Dolf was then hit in the head with a rock when he tried to stop the gang from entering and looting his home. Former Chegutu farmer Ben Freeth told SW Radio Africa that Dolf is not seriously injured.
Freeth explained that local police only arrived on the property late on Sunday, despite being informed of the situation on Friday. But instead of arresting the land invaders, the police told the Du Toits that they could not guarantee their safety, but were willing to escort them off the farm.
An almost identical situation played out at nearby De Rust farm last month, when the Smit family was forced to flee their property after days of harassment and intimidation. They were also under siege by Makwengura and his gang from Mutare. The farm owner, Koos Smit, ended up in prison on false assault charges, while Makwengura and his hired mob led a violent attack at the farm. Koos’ wife and sons, who tried to keep the invaders at bay, were also told by police that their safety could not be guaranteed and they were escorted off the property.
The Du Toits are the fourth family in Nyazura to be evicted from their properties in this fashion, and Makwengura has now warned the final white commercial farmer in the district that his farm is next.
In March Makwengura led the successful eviction of the Grobler family, before turning his attention three days later to evicting farmer Tivi Landos. He then tried to evict Landos’ elderly father, who managed to negotiate his ‘voluntary’ move off the farm. The 80 year old farmer, rather than fight his unlawful eviction, agreed to leave his farm within 30 days.
Makwengura is said to be working for ZANU PF ‘beneficiaries’ of Robert Mugabe’s destructive land grab campaign, and follows the same modus operandi for every eviction. In exchange for items like tractors and other equipment, Makwengura hires a gang of youths to help intimidate farmers, until they are forced to leave.
Many of the remaining white farmers across the country are also facing ongoing intimidation, in what some observers have said is ZANU PF’s final push to grab the remaining commercial property in Zimbabwe. The attacks have also intensified this year, after the shock decision by the SADC leadership bloc to close the regional human rights court.
That court had ruled in 2008 that the land grab was unlawful. But instead of upholding those rulings which were publicly dismissed by ZANU PF, SADC has apparently moved to appease Mugabe by closing the court.