Farmer tells of Zim attack

2008-07-02 00:00

Zimbabwean farmer Ben Freeth (37) spoke to The Witness from his hospital bed yesterday and said it is a miracle that he and his family are still alive.

Freeth, his father-in-law Michael Campbell (75) and mother-in-law Angela (70) were brutally attacked on Sunday by about 50 Zanu-PF members.

They believe the assault was a reaction to a court case brought by Campbell against President Robert Mugabe, who has been subpoenaed to appear before the SADC tribunal in Windhoek on July 16.

Campbell has been granted an interdict preventing the seizure of his 3 000-acre farm in the interim.

Freeth said he got a tip-off on Sunday, following an attack on a neighbouring farm, that the Campells were next. He tried to get to the farm to warn them, but was too late. “They opened fire on me and shot the wheels.”

About 50 armed men were on the property, some ransacking the farm house, others assaulting the elderly couple. Freeth was dragged from his vehicle and also beaten. “They took us to a Zanu-PF meeting and made us sing the party’s anthems. They even urinated on Angela. It was absolutely horrific,” he said.

Left for dead on the side of a long stretch of road, Freeth and the Campbells were found and taken to a hospital on Monday.

“They wanted to make an example of us. They wanted to make us withdraw the interdict,” said Freeth, who sustained injuries to his eye, feet and head.

Campbell, a former captain in the South African army, moved to Rhodesia in 1974.

In the past eight years, there have been several attacks on his property in an attempt to drive him and his family out, he told Sunday Times reporter Christina Lamb.

Freeth said they will not give up the fight and will not withdraw the court interdict.

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