Zim family flee after threat

2009-10-03 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — Courtney Sparrow, the nine-year-old Zimbabwean girl who miraculously survived an attack by two lions a year ago, has no home to return to after she was discharged from hospital on Thursday.

Members of Zanu-PF have illegally invaded the Sparrows’ farm in the Masvingo province, killed nine of their buffalo and other animals, including cattle, and stole many of their valuable belongings.

“Our lives and the lives of our farm labourers have been taken away from us,” said Margaret, Courtney’s mother, this week at the Netcare-Milpark hospital where Courtney had surgery on Monday.

Her husband Ron’s wildlife and tourism project worth about R10 million has been destroyed.

Two of the Sparrows’ lions grabbed Courtney in September last year and scratched and gashed her head quite seriously. During Monday’s operation, the gaps in her skull where pieces were ripped out were restored and closed.

Ron Sparrow showed Beeld

documentation proving that the Masvingo provincial government, on the recommendation of tribal chiefs in the area, approved his purchase of the Swartfontein farm.

However, Zanu-PF members threw a spanner in the works, apparently because one of them previously asked Sparrow to buy a car for him, which Ron refused.

Two war veterans, Isiah Muzenda and Alex Mudavanhu, and their accomplices have terrorised the Sparrows ever since, despite repeated orders from Deputy President Joseph Msika, who has since died, that the Sparrows must be left alone.

Environmental Affairs and Tourism Minister Francis Nhema has alleged in newspaper reports that Sparrow simply abandoned his farm.

“That’s a blatant lie. I’ve been in his office countless times to get the residential permit that the deputy president ordered him to issue to me. He just doesn’t do it.”

The Sparrows fled to South Africa with two suitcases in February, after they heard they would be arrested. Muzenda and Mudavanhu moved into the Sparrows’ home in July. The Sparrows are staying with friends temporarily.

That’s a blatant lie. Ron Sparrow, on allegations that he abandoned his farm

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