Family appeals to SA govt over land attacks
Written by SW Radio, UK Zimbawean
Friday, 06 August 2010 12:46
Farmer at War, by Trevor Grundy & Bernard Miller [Rhodesia Min of Info] (PDF) [The Farmer at War was published in Rhodesia in 1979 while the Lancaster House talks were in process. It describes the embattled position of the farmers in 1979 and, even more relevant today, concludes that without the farms and farmers there was no future for the country. Includes photos and a Roll of Honour of Farmers and their families killed up to 1979.]
A South African family farming in Zimbabwe has made a desperate appeal to President Jacob Zuma’s government to come to their aid in their bid to fend of attempts by a senior politician to grab their farm.
Philip and Ellen Hapelt from Grasslands Farm in Somabhula have been fighting for several months to hold on to their property, which has caught the eye of parliamentarian Jabulani Mangena.
Mangena has led a campaign of harassment, vandalism and violence against the Hapelts and their workers, claiming he has an offer letter entitling him to the property. Late last year, the Hapelts were brutally beaten by a gang of thugs, in an attack the family believes was meant to drive them from their farm.
The Hapelts many years ago voluntarily gave up the majority of their land for the sake of ‘reform’, under an agreement that would allow them to remain on their homestead with a small portion of farming land. They also have two Court orders that entitle them to live on the farm without fear of invasion or persecution. But Mangena is openly disregarding the courts and has even threatened the Hapelts with more violence if they approach the courts again.
Philip Hapelt is a South African citizen and he and his family have made numerous appeals to the South African High Commission to intervene on their behalf. Hapelt’s daughter Lauren told SW Radio Africa on Wednesday that their pleas have been to no avail, explaining how the situation on her parent’s farm is worsening on a daily basis. “This is a terror campaign against my parents who are elderly, and time is really running out for them,” Lauren said.
Anatomy of Terror, by Rhodesia Min. of Info [Series of booklets published by the Rhodesian Government in the 1970s to make the world aware of the atrocities being carried out by the terrorist groups of Mugabe and Nkomo. This section consists of several booklets and a selection of graphic photos of the victims of terrorism.]
Lauren has written yet another letter to the High Commission in a desperate plea for assistance, but she said on Wednesday that the South African government’s lack of action has been “abysmal.” “South Africa is in a strong position to bring pressure on the Zimbabwean government to stop this gangster like behaviour,” Lauren said. “It isn’t an unreasonable request to ask them to protect their citizens and honour their obligations.”
The South African government has come under fire for not intervening on behalf of its citizens, many of whom are facing a similar situation on farms across Zimbabwe. This includes Ian Ferguson whose game ranch near Beitbridge was illegally seized by land invaders said to be working for a top Zanu (PF) official. Ferguson’s game has been slaughtered and repeated pleas for help from his government have gone unanswered.
The invasions of the South African owned properties are also a violation of a bilateral investment protection agreement between the two countries, which Hapelt’s daughter Lauren said “is hardly worth the paper it is written on.”
The latest agreement which was signed last year, but only ratified in May, has not been honoured by either the South African or Zimbabwean governments. Kallie Kriel from the South African civil rights initiative AfriForum said on Wednesday that it is outrageous that his country’s government has not intervened.
Kriel was speaking from Zimbabwe, where he has been on a fact finding mission speaking to South African farmers affected by land invasions. Kriel told SW Radio Africa that there has been “absolutely no response to the pleas for help,” which he said was a serious indictment on Zuma’s administration. “What we can see here is that the old bond between the ANC and Zanu (PF) still lingers,” Kriel said. “These past friendships are standing in the way of justice and it is unacceptable.”
» » » » [Zimbabwean.UK]
Suspected ZANU-PF Militants Invade Game Ranch in Zimbabwe's Beitbridge District
Ian Ferguson, a white Zimbabwean who owns the Denlynian Game Ranch with his South African children, said the invaders have evicted all of his employees and sealed off the ranch, threatening anyone who refused to comply
Gibbs Dube, VOA News
Washington 21 April 2010
A game ranch in Zimbabwe's Beitbridge district on the border with South Africa has been invaded by militants believed to be supporters of the ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe, with the reported backing of Matabeleland South Angeline Masuku and Co-Minister of Home Affairs Kembo Mohadi, sources said.
Ian Ferguson, a white Zimbabwean who owns the Denlynian Game Ranch with his South African children, said the invaders have evicted all of his employees and sealed off the ranch. Ferguson said they threatened to kill anyone who resisted their orders to leave the property.
“The invaders are causing havoc as they have started looting at the ranch and threatening to kill workers or anyone not willing to co-operate," Ferguson said.
The invaders appeared to have the full backing of the ZANU-PF party leadership in the province including Masuku, and of Home Affairs Co-Minister Mohadi.
Ferguson told VOA Studio 7 reporter Gibbs Dube that he has sought intervention by South Africa’s Embassy in Harare, invoking the bilateral investment protection agreement signed by the two countries and ratified recently by Zimbabwe’s House of Assembly.
Masuku refused to comment and Home Affairs Co-Minister Mohadi was not reachable.
» » » » [VOA News]
White farmers in Zimbabwe struggle against increasing violence
The Southern African Commercial Farmers Alliance (SACFA) has reported a spate of farm seizures and arrests in recent weeks.
By Leah Hyslop, Telegraph.UK
Published: 9:39AM BST 11 Jun 2010
Ian Ferguson's conservation farm, seized in April, is now littered with the remains of his slaughtered animals. And some pics from happier times. These are elands.
On May 25, Geoff Carbutt and his wife Shirley were evicted from their farm in Inyathi at gunpoint. Mr Carbutt was then arrested at his farm for occupying state land without a permit.
On the same day, farmer Ed Grenfell Dexter was arrested in Bulawayo, whilst a few days later on May 28, James Taylor and his son Matthew were arrested on their farm and taken to police cells in Nyamandhlovu .
But according to the SACFA, most of the affected farmers had official permits protecting their land from seizure.
Chris Jarrett, Chairman of the SACFA, commented: "For a while, things were quiet, but all of a sudden there has been a real burst of activity against white landowners.
"As far as we're concerned, all these seizures have been completely illegal. Most of the remaining white farmers exist on tiny portions of their original land, and have every right to stay there. The land acquisition notice for James Taylor's estate was withdrawn several years ago. The Carbutts have already given up most of their land for resettlement, and had a High Court order saying they could stay on the remaining section. Ed Grenfell Dexter doesn’t even live on his farm any more and was lured out to be arrested.
"People think that there may be a period of quiet now until the World Cup is over, but we can’t be sure. It’s an unsettling time for farmers.”
Land reform in Zimbabwe began in 1979, when the Lancaster House Agreement between Britain and Zimbabwe pledged to begin a fairer distribution of land between the white minority who ruled Zimbabwe from 1890 to 1979 and the landless black population. At this stage, land acquisition could only occur on a voluntary basis.
By March 2000, however, little land had been redistributed and frustrated groups of government supporters began seizing white-owned commercial farms.
Since the seizures began, agricultural production in Zimbabwe has fallen dramatically.
Mr Jarrett said there had even been occasions when local people gathered in support of persecuted white farmers: "I think it would be true to say that it is widely accepted in Zimbabwe now, as in the rest of the world, that our economical and financial problems are due to the seizure of these farms. It was the white farmers who often provided the local community with support – providing work, or sending their men to fix things like piping problems in the village.
“When the police tried to take Gary Godfrey’s farm in Nyamandhlovu a few weeks ago, his workers and the local veterans went to see the superintendent and insisted it stopped. Most of the seizures have been taking place in Nyamandhalovu and Inyathi, districts which are traditionally very independent. People there are very tired of being dictated to by the police."
Ian Ferguson, a farmer in Beitbridge whose land was seized in April, said that the situation was become increasingly difficult for white land owners to bear: “I spent twenty five years setting up a wildlife conservation farm in a semi desert area which the government had officially declared no interest in. All of a sudden, it was seized, and now there is nothing left.
“In the past month, machinery has been ripped apart, solar panels stolen and nearly all my animals shot. 80 per cent of the impalas are dead, and the attackers have skinned over 100 zebra for their hides. In just a few weeks, they have inflicted a level of devastation which I would have thought would take three or four months.”
“Two thirds of my family have left Zimbabwe now, and I think it’s probably the best thing for them. This is nothing more than ethic cleansing – pure and simple.”
Dr Steven Chan, a professor of international relations at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, said that the farm seizures were "likely to be related to an eventual election, next year or further in the future, when Zanu-PF might lose its command over Zimbabwe. They become a hedging of bets, seizing assets while it is still possible."
There are now fewer than than 400 white farmers in Zimbabwe. In 2000, this was number was around 4500.
» » » » [Telegraph.UK]
South African farmer accuses Zimbabwe authorities of ethnic cleansing
By Violet Gonda, SW Radio News
22 April 2010
South Africa citizen, Ian Ferguson, who built up Denlynian Game Ranch in Zimbabwe’s dry Beitbridge area into a prized tourism destination, has accused the Zimbabwean authorities of ‘ethnic cleansing’ under the guise of land resettlement.
The white commercial farmer is the latest casualty of the government’s land reform programme.
The commercial farmer said he took over the farm when it was derelict 24 years ago and got a ‘letter of no interest’ from the government. Ferguson built it up and installed electricity and pumping points, only to have a group of people calling themselves the ‘Zhovi Conservancy’ invade the farm recently.
Ferguson said there is currently widespread looting and asset stripping by the group who invaded the game ranch last Wednesday. 20 staff members, including game guards, were evicted and dumped along the Bulawayo road. His son, Arthur, was arrested in front of his young children and spent a night behind bars at Beitbridge police station.
The farmer said there is no law and order when it comes to the land issue and those taking over the ranch include police officers, civil servants, municipal workers and communal farmers. ZANU PF vehicles were also reportedly seen on the property.
“The property has the highest density of plains game in Zimbabwe and a very sensitive ecosystem. Our fear is that they are going to slaughter the game and destroy it within weeks if not days.” Ferguson breeds a unique pack of wild dogs and the wildlife ranch is home to animals including antelopes, giraffes, eland, kudus, bushbucks and zebras.
He pointed out that there is a major river that runs through his property and on the opposite side is land that was purchased by government in the early 1980s. The farmer said this particular land, which is three times the size of his wildlife conservation farm, was fully developed when it was acquired by the authorities but has been completely neglected.
“It’s totally derelict with not a single person living on it. So the whole thing doesn’t make any sense at all. It’s nothing to do with land resettlement, it’s purely ethnic cleansing. That’s all it is.”
He said the ‘new settlers’ claim they have offer letters ‘but they won’t give us the offer letters and we have been told that the offer letters are not legal because they were created in Beitbridge and not by the ministry’.
Ferguson said the South African Embassy in Harare have told him that his farm is not protected under a Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA), signed by South Africa and Zimbabwe last year. According to this agreement any property which was gazetted for acquisition before 2009 is not protected under this BIPPA. He said his farm was originally gazetted for acquisition in 2007.
He added: “But as a South African citizen the South African government is still obliged to protect one’s interest in foreign countries and we can’t complain, they are doing everything they can and they are being very cooperative and are concerned.”
It is understood the South African embassy has approached the Zimbabwe Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the issue but it is not known what the response has been.
Reports also claim that co-Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi, who comes from Beitbridge, is behind this latest land invasion, but we have not been able to get a comment from the Minister.
» » » » [SW Radio Africa]
Zimbabwe - Germany shows what can be done in Zim
02 Aug 2010
The Zimbabwe government ordered an armed gang off three agricultural plantations in the east of the country, belonging to German national Heinrich von Pezold, after Germany threatened to withdraw aid to Zimbabwe.
On the same day in Chipinge, South African citizen Mike Odendaal was arrested on his farm Wolwedraai for refusing to vacate his property. The South African embassy secured his release, but it was the first time the embassy had intervened after several requests for help from Odendaal.
Civil rights group AfriForum and South African farmers in Zimbabwe facing similar threats said the two events indicate how little the South African government cares for its citizens abroad.
“I’ve written to Imraan Simmins at the South African Embassy pointing out that the South African government potentially has a lot more leverage in Zimbabwe than Germany, and yet Germany is producing results for its citizens,” said Ian Ferguson, whose Denlyian ranch near Beit Bridge has been seized despite its supposed protection by a recently ratified South Africa/Zimbabwe bilateral investment protection agreement (Bipa).
Ferguson’s game was slaughtered and his son faces charges of illegally occupying his own land.
“Simmins sent me a letter saying the Bipa agreement was meaningless in my case.
He then wrote to apologise after being ticked off by the foreign affairs department, who said the South African government’s position was not yet clear,” said Ferguson.
He wrote to Simmins again when his son’s case was remanded to 14 July 2010, saying this was an opportunity to inform the magistrate that this was considered a Bipa-protected property. “But of course I didn’t get any reply,” said Ferguson.
AfriForum lawyer Willie Spies said a number of other South African farmers are having problems. “A Mr Hapelt is being terrorised by invaders in Somabhula; Geoff Carbutt has been arrested and prevented from accessing his own farm, and Gary Godfrey had his electricity cut off by local police, to name but a few,” said Spies.
AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel said his organisation intended using Mike Odendaal’s case “to tackle the South African government over their lack of action”.
They want to get the courts to see government isn’t fulfilling the responsibilities to its own citizens, Kriel explained. “That way we can compel government to show how it intends to deal with the situation.”
Earlier this year, AfriForum successfully attached a number of Zimbabwean properties in South Africa on behalf of South African farmers who lost their livelihoods in Zimbabwe.
In July, the Zimbabwe government brought an urgent application to prevent AfriForum from selling the properties.
However, some of the same properties were attached by lawyers for German bank KfW Bankengruppe, which is owed US0 million (R1,1 billion) by Zimbabwe’s state-owned steel company Zisco.
“I believe the German bank wasn’t interdicted like we were,” said Kriel. “If they go ahead with their own sales of attached properties, there’s nothing we can do to stop them.
“The bottom line is the Germans have shown what can be done. But instead of coming to the defence of its own citizens the South African government invited Mugabe to the World Cup final.
When he’s treated softly like that there’s no reason for his government to stop persecuting South African farmers.” – Sean Christie
» » » » [Farmers Weekly & Meat Trade Daily]