‘War vets’ threaten farmers

2009-04-06 00:00

AN elderly white Zimbabwean farming couple are once again in danger on their Zimbabwean farm.

Mike (76) and Angela Campbell (68), who were severely beaten by war-veterans in June last year, were yesterday trying to keep a group of veterans at bay, after they frightened their workers away and threatened to take over their farm in the Chegutu district. The couple are alone on their farm with their daughter Cathy.

Karkloof farmer Peter Train, brother of Angela, told The Witness yesterday that he suspected that the fact that the mango crop was ready to go now, formed part of the reason the farm was currently under threat.

Train said that eight war-veterans arrived in a Prado and began harassing the couple on Friday night. “All their 150 workers arrived to protect the Campbells and they left, but on Saturday night they returned. The veterans got hold of six of their workers and beat them badly. One of them is in a critical condition.”

Train said the police arrived but said they had come not to help but to arrest the Campbell’s son, Bruce. Bruce subsequently took off into the bush.

“My sister and brother-in-law have been holed up in their house all night, while the war-vets are chanting outside and trying to break in.”

A worried Train alleged that the Zimbabwean police in that area were part and parcel of the harassment.”

“There is no law there. We have spoken to the SA Agricultural Union who has alerted their Zimbabwean counterparts. Meanwhile the world stands back and looks. The Campbells employ over 250 people altogether; 150 on the farm and their daughter employs 110 in her handcrafts project.”

Train said he had been in contact with Angela by email and phone and they were really traumatised. He told The Witness that three farm workers had to be hospitalised after being beaten with iron bars. He said police who arrived at the farm eventually were armed with AK47s. They promptly arrested seven workers.

“There was no investigation into the actions of the war veterans.” He added the truck from South Africa which arrived to fetch the mangoes had gone back empty, and that cows had not been milked because the workers were too intimidated to work.

“There is total intimidation now.”

He said on Saturday night the war vets broke down the kitchen door but did not advance further after Campbell threatened to shoot them. Texas Jiji, the MDC spokesperson in KZN, told The Witness he was unaware of this weekend’s incident and that he would try and contact his people in Zimbabwe to try and find out the latest and to see what could be done to assist the couple.

Speaking to The Witness from Zimbabwe yesterday, Hendrik Olivier of the Commercial Farmers’ Union said pressure from the media was needed to put a stop to the invasions.

Background: The Campbells

THE Campbells were featured in a series of e-mails last year that detailed their horrific injuries following a beating on Sunday, June 28 — the day after the June 27 presidential run-off election. They were kidnapped from their farm in the Chegutu district on the Sunday by heavily-armed men. Mike Campbell was severely assaulted, his collar bone broken and he was concussed from head injuries.

Angela’s arm was broken in two places. Their son-inlaw, Ben Freeth, had cuts and bruises and was beaten on the soles of his feet.

Campbell was one of 78 white farmers who petitioned a regional court to have Zimbabwe’s farm eviction laws overturned. He then approached the SADC tribunal in Windhoek and in a groundbreaking ruling, got full protection by SADC. He has been on his farm since 1974. - Witness Reporter.

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