Zimbabwe: ‘They said they were like hungry lions’

2008-05-14 00:00

The following is an edited statement made by William Rogers after he and his wife Annette were attacked on their farm in Zimbabwe last week.

On May 6, at about 1 pm, I was visited by three men at our farm, Chigwell Extension Farm.

They told me that I had two minutes to vacate my property otherwise they would send the mob and … we would lose our lives. They said they were like hungry lions.

My wife made a report to the Chegutu Police Station and named the people involved.

At about 5 pm on the same day, a white Datsun 1 800 pick-up arrived at the gate carrying 10 to 12 people. They demanded that I open the gate. I refused and went into the house with my wife. We locked ourselves in the house. They came to the house and wanted me to go outside to speak to them. I refused. They started smashing windows and the front door was smashed open. One of them pointed a shotgun at us — by then we were upstairs. He fired a shot at us which went just over my head and close to my wife’s head. He then went out and it went quiet for a while. Then we heard three shots coming from the workers’ housing area. They returned with all the workers and fired another shot outside.

I managed to get through to the assistant inspector at the Chegutu Police Station. He said that I must phone him back in half an hour. Throughout all of this my wife was on the phone to numerous friends who were at the Chegutu Police Station trying to get assistance from them with absolutely no result whatsoever. My wife and I made many phone calls to the member in charge on his cellphone, but he did not answer it.

By this time it was dark and the power went off so we were left in darkness and unable to identify our own employees. They then used the workers as a shield so that they could all come inside the house and started chanting and singing and making threats downstairs.

They sent one of the workers upstairs to demand my shotgun. I refused and this employee stayed upstairs with us. They then grabbed the son of this employee and they threatened to kill or injure him if he didn’t go back downstairs with the weapon.

He went back downstairs without the weapon. After about five minutes they told all the singing workers to go upstairs using them as a shield once more. Annette used the mace and sprayed them. They ran back downstairs and out of the house.

This incensed the thugs who then broke down the back door and started building a fire in the downstairs lounge directly below us. As we have a wooden floor upstairs this posed a great threat and we thought we would be burnt alive which is when I said that we would come out and asked if they would let us leave peacefully. They agreed. We came downstairs and they demanded the shotgun from me.

They took the shotgun from me, wrestled me to the ground and started beating me with sticks or pipes and kicking me. They dragged my wife outside and tried to strangle her. She managed to bite the hand of the man who was grabbing her round the throat. Whereupon he started to beat her. At one time there were at least four men beating and kicking her.

They tied me up with rope and threw me into the back of their pick-up. My wife was still being beaten. When they had finished beating her, one of them grabbed her by her feet and dragged her over to the vehicle. They demanded that she stand up and get into the back of the truck which she was unable to do. One of them grabbed her by the hair, pulled her into a standing position and pushed her up against the back of the truck and told her to get in. She climbed in.

There were about four or five of them around the vehicle watching us. They were shouting verbal abuse and racist comments, and threatening to kill either one or both of us, stating the manner in which they would kill us. This must have gone on for almost an hour. They were burning my feet with cigarettes.

Then we saw vehicle lights shining towards us and my wife was told to get out of the vehicle and was dragged towards the headlights of the vehicle that had arrived.

When she got to the vehicle she saw that there were four armed policeman from Kadoma Police Station who asked what had happened. She told them briefly what had happened and demanded that they fetch me immediately from the vehicle. One of the thugs came and untied me and told me to get out of the vehicle and made me walk towards the headlights of the parked vehicle. The incident was described to them in more detail. They accompanied us into the house so we could get warm clothing. Once we were in the house we saw that the gun cabinet had been ransacked and that my weapons were missing.

The police took us to Chegutu Police Station to make a report. When we got there they had to call a superior officer to take a statement. He arrived as we were leaving for Harare to get urgent medical attention. No police officer of any authority seemed to show any interest in taking our statement.

My injuries are two cracked vertebrae in my lower back, a fractured cheekbone, fractured nose, copious bleeding into my sinuses and extensive lacerations and deep-tissue bruising to my face and back, and a bite to my right ear lobe. My wife’s injuries are fractured cheekbones, fractures around her orbital socket round her eye, perforated eardrum, cracked ribs and extensive bruising to her face, back and throat.

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