Orphans suffer as farm invader cuts water, electricity

Houtburg Children`s Home in Chipinge East is facing serious food and water shortages after a war veteran who invaded the property blocked water and cut electricity.

Some of the opharns at Houtberg Children`s Centre in Mount Selinda, Chipinge East.
Some of the opharns at Houtberg Children`s Centre in Mount Selinda, Chipinge East.

Houtburg farm, whose former owner Victor Odendaal left for the USA after his property was seized in 2008, houses more than 24 vulnerable orphans. The Houtburg Children`s Home was founded by Odendaal in 1982.

The farm taken over by a Zanu (PF) supporter identified as Samuel Mhlanga after the controversial June 27 Presidential runoff elections. Odendaal kept dairy cattle and pigs, and supplied milk and meat to the orphanage regularly.

The Director, Mishack Sigauke, confirmed that they were facing serious food shortages and hardships after water supplies and electricity was cut off by Mhlanga, who is now living at the homestead.

“Our grinding mill is not working because we don’t have electricity and our food supplies are limited because of space and water to conduct irrigation. We cannot raise funds to sustain operations because of non availability of electricity,” he said.

“Our water reservoir tank and transformer were located at the main house for security reasons. We felt it was safe because Odendaal was staying at the homestead then.” A local headman, Shingirayi Simon Nyowana (Headman Muvango) said he and others had tried to block Mhlanga`s invasion by engaging Chief Mapungwana and Manicaland Governor Tineyi Chigudu, but nothing had been done.

“There are over 20 dairy cattle and pigs which require special feed but Mhlanga put a fence and orphanage cattle are now restricted from accessing the special grass which makes them produce more milk.

Pigs are starving because of lack of adequate feed,” said headman Muvango. He said they have taken up the matter with Chipinge District Administrator Noel Mundeta but had not received any positive response.

Efforts to get comment from Mhlanga were fruitless.

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