By Alex Bell
16 August 2011
See pictures of the du Toit farm after the invasion
Thousands of people have been left destitute after a spate of land invasions in Nyazura in recent months.
Four of the remaining five white commercial farms in the district have been invaded by a mob working for so called ‘beneficiaries’ of the land grab campaign. The mob is led by a self confessed CIO agent called Onisimas Makwengura, who has used intimidation and violence to force the farmers and their families to flee their homes. The mob in turn has been given free rein to loot the properties.
Over the weekend Dolf and Alida du Toit from Exelsior farm were forced to flee their home with a police escort, after days of attack by Makwengura and his gang. The mob used rocks as missiles to smash windows on the Du Toit’s house, and even tried gaining access to the house through the roof. Police eventually arrived on the property on Sunday night, but instead of arresting the violent thugs told the Du Toits that their safety could not be guaranteed.
Dolf du Toit had to seek medical attention after he was pelted with rocks by the gang, while he was trying to protect his home. His property has since been completely looted.
Former Chegutu farmer Ben Freeth meanwhile told SW Radio Africa that about 2,000 farm workers and their families have all been left without homes and a source of income, because of the Nyazura farm invasions. He said it was critical for the government to intervene, because of the massive impact this unlawful behaviour was having on ordinary citizens.
Hundreds of thousands of farm workers have lost their jobs and homes as a result of the destructive land grab campaign since it was launched in 2000. Some observers say that the figure could be more than a million, because whole families lost their sources of income and homes when ZANU PF forcibly took over productive, commercial properties.
Respect for property rights and basic human rights are just two issues the unity government is supposed to uphold, as part of the coalition agreement it signed back in 2008. But nothing has been done to protect Zimbabweans, and the ongoing farm invasions are just one more sign that the rights of ordinary people are being wholly overlooked.