Justice Denied Zimbabwe

Update posted by Barbara Langridge On Nov 25, 2019

I was 10 years old at the time we were attacked in our home by six armed men. It was the night of 22nd January 2004. My life has never been the same again.

Even though I do not feature in the video, Justice Denied, my family speaks in part about the experiences we went through.Although we lived through the events in the same way, we all came out of it scarred differently. My sister wrote something that I felt was so true - the fact that we never really open up about these things.

I don't share this part of my life with many people, and those whom I have, are a select few, but, with all the voices being aired currently and people making their mark and telling their own stories - I guess it is safe enough to be vocal about the things I went through as a child, and I guess it is okay to feel the way I feel.

I have struggled for a long time with my own sense of identity and belonging - never feeling like I fully have my feet on either side of the soil. I was lucky enough to come to SA when I was 14 so I have spent a lot of my formative years here in Cape Town.I have “found myself”here, and I have come to a point in my life where I have built up strong social and economic foundations, but it can also be incredibly isolating- being part of this history that I never feel really safe to speak about.

The discourse in South Africa regarding land reform and white and black farmers has always been something I get scared to get into conversations about, solely because of the lived experience and the trajectory of misguided land reform in Zimbabwe that we went through. It destroyed us all.

I lived through Zimbabwe’s land reform and I revisited Zimbabwe a number of times and have witnessed the loss of life, community, well being, and production which was a direct cause of Robert Mugabe’s Land Reform.

This is not really meant to be a piece about land- but I felt it necessary as the footage does showcase the places I lost a lot of my childhood to. There was something so naive about that time but also so dark and brooding. Despite the merits of post colonial land reform, which is s necessary and important- especially in contexts like South Africa there was another side to itin Zimbabwe.

White Zimbabwean farming families were just ordinary citizens, doing the best we could and making a life in a place we considered our home.I knew numerous skilled farmers, black and white business owners, and none of us deserved to be treated in the way we were.The violence and torture, the burning, the slaughter, the rape. That was not what reform was meant to be.

My family were one of many families, black and white Zimbabweans targeted by the government, attacked and beaten in our home. When a regime bases itself on fear- it has to maintain fear to silence opposing voices to subdue the nation.

After the night of our attack, we all suffered trauma that has manifested itself in many ways till the present. I hate sleeping alone in houses, I get scared of noises at night, sometimes the fear can be so crippling that I lie in bed, sweating, paralyzed by my fear. I have tried hard to overcome that but it has been more than ten years but it still hurts me.

It's hard to write this, to be so honest about this fear.I am haunted by the past in ways I do not know how to move on from. Some of those demons take the form of nostalgia, some exist in the relationship I share with my dad, some take shape in the deep need I feel for friendship and security.I am a chronic over thinker. Those past uncertainties made me always feel the need to over plan as a way of controlling my environment.

The degradation of politics in Zimbabwe impacted on families and communities- with people leaving the country to work elsewhere to support their families who remained in Zimbabwe. Many marriages could not endure the pressure of separation of working and living apart.My own parents were victims of this situation, my father went to work in Zambia and my mother remained in Zimbabwe taking care of our schooling and day to day needs.This, coupled with material loss was too great. Male ego too strong. Divorce rates soared, stresses increased, struggles resumed.

There are things that happened to us that we couldn't even speak about among ourselves. Too much water has flowed under the bridge and we no longer knew how to tread the ever widening gap between water and shoreline.

So many fears that have come in to play- that loss. Fiscal, physical, emotional, tangible. It made us all a little crazy I guess. It leaked into the way I treated people, the way I love fully and hard, even when I love people who are unkind and uncaring, because the thought of losing the person or being left by them, after everything- it felt like it would be too much to bear.

I guess, carrying that baggage and sharing it. That's the point of all of this. So, here. A snippet of a life that used to be mine and some vistas of the wreckage that lay on the land and in my heart.

At present (2019) I live in Cape Town. I have a degree in Political Science with and Honours Degree in Political Communication. I will probably never work in this discipline becuase as a white I feel there is no place for my voice nor opinion in South Africa. At University I wrote my Thesis on Land Reform in Zimbabwe as reported in South African Media, and this research lead me to the concludsion that there is no place for white narritve in South Africa. I was at University at the time of the #rhodesmustfall protests, this was a difficult time, and I felt the same sense of isolation as a white South Africa because my views, even if they were not different from current context and in tune with protests, were not wanted, and I felt again, excluded and denied full citizenship.

I try to ignore current politics and exoress myself through poetry, art and mustic. I am member of band Orah & the Kites.


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Update posted by Barbara Langridge On Nov 20, 2019

SADC Tribunal Rights Watch

October 14, 2015

A British doctor and his wife have joined the relentless onslaught by ruling party officials on Zimbabwe’s few remaining white commercial farmers and are currently involved in the invasion of a tobacco farm north-east of Harare.

For the past month, Dr Sylvester Nyatsuro (45) and his wife, Veronica, have been trying to drive a highly experienced commercial farmer, Phillip Rankin (57) and his wife, Anita, off Kingston Deverill farm in the Centenary district of Mashonaland Central province.

Rankin bought the farm in 1983, three years after independence, with the consent of the Mugabe government. Originally he produced high quality irrigated tobacco as well as the country’s staple food crop, maize (corn) and passion fruit.He also farmed cattle and pigs, but the farm has been severely depleted by continual seizures.

Nyatsuro, who was born in Zimbabwe but is believed to have emigrated around 2003, is now a British passport holder. He owns “The Willows” weight loss clinic in Nottingham, England.

During September, the Nyatsuros arrived at Rankin’s farm with ruling party thugs, police and government officials, and presented a letter which they said authorised them to take over the farm.

Although Nyatsuro was not personally aggressive, the group was very threatening, warning Rankin that his farm and his equipment would be taken, and he would be left with nothing.

On October 12, pressure mounted against Rankin and his wife, who were locked into their house by aggressive invaders.

Rankin is involved in giving evidence against the ruling party Governor of Mashonaland Central province, Advocate Martin Dinha, for extorting large amounts of money from desperate white farmers so that they would be allowed to continue farming.

Under current Zimbabwean law, if a white farmer refuses to hand over his farm, he can face criminal prosecution and up to two years in prison for continuing to remain on “state” land. Paying a bribe is very often the only other option.

Dinha was involved in the defence team for the Zimbabwe Government in the Campbell Case in the SADC Tribunal, which ruled in November 2008 that the government violated the SADC Treaty by denying access to the courts and engaging in racial discrimination against white farmers.

Rankin managed to get a High Court order barring the British doctor and his “rent a crowd” from the property.It was served on them on the evening of October 12 by the messenger of the court.

Rankin and his wife then spent the night bravely at home, but were deprived of sleep by the rabble-rousing crowd. The following day, October 13, again in defiance of the High Court, Mrs Nyatsuro came with a bus of reinforcements for the invaders.

“Such lawless behaviour happens all the time in Zimbabwe,” said Ben Freeth, spokesperson for SADC Tribunal Rights Watch. “Police simply refuse to uphold High Court orders when their political masters tell them not to.”

“For 15 years, we have been battling with racist attacks on white-owned commercial farms, and from time to time, white-owned businesses – it is a culture of complete impunity,” he added.

On October 8, it was reported that the UK and the US have pledged US$43 million for food relief for Zimbabwe in a bid to rescue at least 650,000 hunger victims. Since 2002, USAID has provided more than US$1 billion in humanitarian assistance to Zimbabwe.

USAID mission director, Stephanie Funk, said that humanitarian assistance alone was not enough and that the root cause of the poverty and hunger needed to be addressed.

Freeth believes that the diplomatic community, which has provided such vast and generous amounts of food aid since the beginning of the farm invasions 15 years ago, needs to visit invaded farms and witness first-hand the lawlessness which is the root cause of the hunger and poverty.

“They haven’t been to a farm which is experiencing a lawless takeover for at least seven years - and yet it’s been happening all the time,” said Freeth.

“The international community needs to initiate an investigation under the International Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.They can’t just watch this abuse from a distance and do nothing about it,” he concluded

Credit to Ben Freeth, SADC Tribunal Watch

https://www.liveleak.com/view?i=78a_1454438010

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Update posted by Barbara Langridge On Nov 19, 2019

"KAT" is currently living in Zimbabwe and believes if she were to publicize her story, she could expose herself to police harrassment. This is KAT's story:

We were kicked off of three farms between the time I was born till I reached 12 years old, the main ones were downs farm in Chegutu and Musasa Seedlings.

My dad was managing both for people who had fled the country when the invasions started. These were my childhood homes.

We went through a lot, there's too many stories to tell. Unfortunately I was quite young when it first started so I don't remember all the details. I only remember from when I was about ten years old, being chased by a mob, seeing farm workers beaten by the mob. These memories haunt me and are the ones I remember.

I moved to South Africa when I was 12. My dad carried on in Zimbabwe because it was too dangerous for me. We were being chased and shot at. I had to live with other relatives. I did not see my dad for a long time. It was difficult to be alone.

I don't really feel comfortable about saying where I am now and what happened because it might turn around and bite me. My Dad doesn't want me to mention him cause he doesn't want issues while he lives in England and I'm here in Zimbabwe on my own.

I would love to tell my story but to be honest I can't remember details which I know is what you want and I'm slightly scared of what could happen. There is a short account on Utube.

After we were chased out of or home, my dad and I camped at my junior school because we had no-where else to go. My dad had no money and we had lost all our possessions in the eviction. The possessions were stolen by the mob. It was a terrible time. I was twelve years old at the time. I was just a kid.

We have moved house alot since being evicted from our home. I've been to 8 different schools in 3 different countries. I live in Zimbabwe now but my dad lives in England.

I think people are still too scared to do anything. .When I saw the Justice Denied post on Facebook I knew I had to message you!

I think a lot of what's said about the farms is different to what really happened, people need to know the truth.

KAT


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Update posted by Barbara Langridge On Nov 19, 2019

Beitbridge farmer’s lone battle against invasions

August 28, 2016

Eighty-year-old Mananje conservancy and Benfer Estate owner Ian Ferguson, has been fighting to hold on to his two properties which have been invaded time and again for over a decade.

By Kudzai Kuwaza

Ferguson has spared no effort in his quest to protect his properties, the 17 500 hectare game ranch Mananje conservancy and the 1 400 hectare citrus Benfer Estates in Beitbridge.

He has knocked on the doors of the two vice-presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko in his battle to retain his conservancy and farm.

Mananje has been invaded four times since 2000 with the most recent being in 2013 which has resulted in the killing of animals, the ransacking of lodges and theft of 57km of fencing.

The game ranch has been flooded with goats, sheep and cattle, threatening the conservancy’s ecosystem. Tourists who used to visit the conservancy, are now gone due to the invasions.

The invasion of Benfer Estates by among others, army official Darlington Muleya has severely hampered operations with most citrus trees destroyed. The damage caused by the invasions has forced Ferguson to abandon the export of citrus fruits which helped bring in the much needed foreign currency.

Ferguson said the invasions at the conservancy alone had set him back by more than two decades.

“The invasions at the conservancy have set us back by 25 years,” Ferguson told The Standard. “Most of my fellow farmers have given up. I have been invaded four times at Mananje and every invasion was a jambanja (violent).”

Ferguson, who was at one time arrested for holding on to Mananje, has had to replace his property stolen by invaders on three occasions at great cost. Some of the property stolen is of huge personal significance which has been passed down from generation to generation.

The invaders have even built structures despite having eviction orders served on them. Ferguson said efforts to get the police to evict them had been futile as they consistently ignored his pleas.

“All the nonsense that is happening would have been unnecessary had the police done their job,” he said. Ferguson says he feels let down by fellow affected white farmers in the area whom he says abandoned him to fight his battle alone.

“I have had no support from other white farmers,” he said. “I feel absolutely betrayed by other affected white farmers with one of them even telling my son ‘You have made your bed, now you must lie in it.’”

Ferguson, who settled in Beitbridge in 1953, vows he will never give up his fight to reclaim his properties despite getting no joy from senior government officials among them Lands minister Douglas Mombeshora and the two VPs.

“We have come so far in our fight against the illegal invasion of our properties and to give up now would be stupid,” he said. “I have never thought of myself as any sort of martyr but have just tried to live by the old world values that I was brought up in and doing so I feel I have retained my dignity and self-respect and have never subscribed to the adage of ‘feeding the crocodile hoping it will eat you last’, as so many of the farmers have done.”

Lawyer Winston Tshakalisa has stood beside Ferguson in his bruising legal battles and the two have formed a close bond.

“I would not be here had it not been for Winston,” Ferguson reflects. We speak four times a day and none of the conversations are shorter than five minutes and never has he once charged me for his services.”

Ferguson also attributes his resolve to keep fighting on his workers who have stuck by him through the trials and tribulations brought about by the invasions, sometimes at the risk of their lives. Some of the workers have been with him since 1967.

He employs 20 workers at the conservancy and has 140 at Benfer Estates.

Ferguson communicates fluently with his workers in the Sotho dialect Lozwe spoken in the south western areas of Zimbabwe and the border with Botswana. He attributes the fluency in the language to working in the Beitbridge community for many years where he was an irrigation specialist.

A former head boy and rugby captain, Ferguson qualified to be an airforce pilot and at one time owned a plane. A close friend to Ferguson who requested anonymity describes the farmer as a fighter who does not know when and how to quit.

“I have assisted this gentleman over the years in his personal and lone struggle against this brutal regime. To my knowledge he is or was the only farmer to commit to the legal process right through to the very end and won,” he enthused.

“This is despite every ounce of government resources and whatever thuggery they could disguise, being thrown at him, month after month and year after year.

“Ian is a gentleman, proud African and someone who has committed his life to the people and country he loves.

“He built an enterprise employing many who would otherwise be destitute in one of the poorest corners of Zimbabwe.”


Ferguson is Australian rugby star David Pocock’s grandfather.

Pocock’s parents were forced to flee Zimbabwe after their farm was seized by the government.

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Barbara Langridge

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I am Zimbabwean. I love my country. In 2004 I was evicted from my home. I am a victim of political genocide and a refugee.

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Matthew De Klerk

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