Explosions on Mike Campbells SADC protected Zim farm

explosionTwo large explosions were heard on Mount Carmel farm in the Chegutu district of Zimbabwe on Tuesday, less than a week after Mike Campbells homestead was burnt to the ground.Farm workers who heard the explosions saw dust billowing into the air above the trees shrouding the ruined house and observed army personnel in the vicinity.

Earlier in the week, a reporter was told by a group of the thugs who had previously forced Mike Campbell (74) and his wife Angela (67) from their home that an arms cache had been discovered and that Campbell would be arrested. The situation is absurd, said Ben Freeth, Campbells son-in-law, who also farms on Mount Carmel. The injuries Mike sustained following our abduction in June last year were so severe that he has become quite frail. His only objective is to return to the farm and help restore the country to food security.

Claims by Zanu PF that arms caches have been discovered are not new. In 2006 for example, three Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) officials were arrested after police said they had found an arms cache in the eastern city of Mutare. Zanu PFs modus operandi has been to arrange for caches to be planted on targeted properties and then to arrest those they wish to silence, claiming they are planning to overthrow the government.

Two police guards are currently stationed at the remains of Mike Campbells house, precluding access to the area. Freeths own home, a few hundred metres away, was destroyed in a raging inferno on Sunday September 6. Since the tractors and fire-fighting equipment had been commandeered by the invaders, there was no way of stopping the blaze. Three workers cottages and Laura Freeths linen factory, which employed 60 women from the farm, were also destroyed.

Its impossible for us to get anywhere close to Mikes house to establish the current situation, said Freeth. When there were similar circumstances on the Etheredges farm and they tried to investigate, they were shot at by the police. Freeth said the Chegutu police continued to thwart investigations of arson and the theft of property from Campbells home. Lorry loads of fertilizer were also stolen from our sheds but there has been no move by the police to follow up with these reports, he said.

Suggestions by the invaders that the Campbell homestead fire was caused by an electrical fault as opposed to arson are premature. We went to ZESA (the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority) to report the fire but to date there has been no investigation into its cause, said Freeth. However, Chief Inspector Manika from Chegutu Police Station has also claimed prematurely that it was an electrical fault.

Police at Chegutu have also failed to follow up a litany of previous reports submitted by Freeth and other beleaguered farmers in the district. These include reports of farm workers being beaten up, resulting in such serious injuries as fractured skulls, house breaking, looting and the theft of tractors and equipment as well as all of Mount Carmels crops for the 2009 season. Current rumours in the district suggest that Nathan Shamuyarira, Zanu PF elderly secretary for information, who claims to have been allocated the previously prosperous farm, has offered one of the stolen tractors to his lawyer for outstanding legal fees.

Shamuyarira, who is well into his eighties, has no previous farming experience. Most of the commercial farms taken over by senior Zanu PF officials and cronies have been asset stripped and their crops stolen. In Campbells case, the Chegutu police have consistently failed to assist the deputy sheriff to evict the invaders who have reaped or destroyed his mango, orange, sunflower and maize crops.

In October 2007, following attempts by the Mugabe regime to acquire Mount Carmel farm, Campbell took the unprecedented step of challenging the government in the Southern African Development Community (SADC)s human rights court. Seventy-seven other commercial farmers joined the case.

On June 29, 2008, the day Robert Mugabe was sworn in as president following the fraudulent, violence-ridden elections, Mike and Angela Campbell and Ben Freeth were abducted. They were viciously beaten for hours and then forced at gunpoint to sign a piece of paper stating they would withdraw their case from the SADC Tribunal. In a landmark judgement on November 28, the Tribunal ruled that the farmers had a legal right to remain on their land. The Government of Zimbabwe was ordered to protect the farmers against future invasions and to allow them to continue farming operations.

However, despite the SADC ruling, Campbell, Freeth and their 500 workers have suffered continuous victimisation and violence. Campbell also has two Zimbabwean High Court orders against the invaders. On April 20, 2009 the High Court gave a provisional order evicting the invaders. This was served on them the next day but the situation became very hostile as most were armed with guns. A week later, a second provisional order was gained in the High Court, reinforcing the first, but still nothing was done by the police.

During May, Landmine, the leader of the invaders, arrived at the Freeths house and threatened blood shed while waving a gun at the back door. On June 5, the SADC Tribunal ruled that the Government of Zimbabwe was in contempt of court and referred the government to the SADC Summit (September 2-8) for appropriate action. This latest outrage on Mount Carmel farm comes just two days after the SADC Summit in Kinshasa, which failed to address the ongoing Zimbabwean crisis. In this situation, where the rule of law has totally broken down, we cannot understand the wall of silence from SADC, who set up the regions internationally respected Tribunal, concluded Freeth.watch out for the families in advance.

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