Farmers’ houses burnt down

2009-09-04 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — He dared to challenge the Mugabe government at an international court and won. Now he has paid dearly for that.

The home of Mike Campbell (76), which has been on the prize farm Mount Carmel, west of Harare, for over 50 years, was burnt to the ground by farm invaders this week.

And this after the home of his son-in-law, Ben Freeth, on the same farm, was set on fire and devastated on Saturday.

Campbell and Freeth instituted legal proceedings at the Tribunal of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in Windhoek last year, on behalf of 77 white farmers whose farms in Zimbabwe had been invaded.

They won that case and the Zimbabwean government was ordered to compensate the farmers for their land, and furthermore found that farmers — like Freeth and Campbell — who had not yet left their farms, should be allowed to carry on with their farming without hindrance.

The verdict followed an incident where the Campbell and Freeth couples were kidnapped and assaulted by invaders.

The elderly Campbell lost all hearing in his left ear, the skull of his wife Angela (75) was fractured and Freeth sustained brain damage.

Since the SADC Tribunal’s first verdict in Windhoek, the court reconfirmed its verdict earlier this year. However, this verdict was yet again disregarded by the new government.

“I don’t know what to do now. They’re burning down my parents-in-law’s house on the day that the SADC ministers’ conference started in Kinshasa,” Freeth said on Wednesday in Johannesburg.

“The truth is that this unity government has completely and utterly failed, and that Zanu-PF is still disregarding the authority of the SADC Tribunal.”

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