Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from Revd Dr Alan Megahey


  1.  This letter serves to give insight into the final days of Farm X . . . the bittersweet emotions that go with this are sometimes difficult to express. I am a firm believer in the forces of human nature and that our life events occur, often for reasons unknown even to ourselves. I am fully aware that this does not justify the actions of evil, but we have taken great lessons from the events of the past three years and we wish to give outsiders an insight into a week in our lives, the last week of a 42 year relationship with a piece of land called Farm X . . . There are thousands of lives that have and are still to be affected by this evolution that dominates our every living moment trying to survive in Zimbabwe . . . this was our goodbye to Farm X . . . to our heritage . . . it is not the process that we are against but the injustice and manner in which it is being carried out.


  2.  At approximately 6.45 pm a group of about 100 ZANU(PF) squatters led by Mr A and other squatters ransacked, looted our compound beating up and hospitalising a total of 15 of our labour, including women.

  3.  The labour were severely beaten with bicycle chains, batons and axes.

  4.  Due to the deterioration of the situation, my parents and I fled to my brother's neighbouring farm 12 km away. Our cook managed to radio and make us aware that the workers were in need of medical attention. Our gardener had managed to get a message that he was bleeding in the bush.

  5.  There was an average of seven squatters beating one of our farm labour.

  6.  I was able to pick up six policemen with two dogs, but by the time we reached the homestead, the squatters were gone.

  7.  We took the following injured workers to hospital


    Mr B who suffered chest and head wounds from being hit by an axe


    Mr C who suffered back wounds from being beaten with a fan belt


    Mr D who had leg wounds from being beaten with a bicycle chain


    Mr E who had head wounds from being beaten with a bicycle chain


    Mr F who had bruised ribs from being hit with a fan belt


    Mr G who had bruises around his back and waist from a baton


    Mr H who had back and arm injuries from beatings with a bicycle chain


    Miss I who had back wounds from a bicycle chain


    Miss J, also a lady who had eye and shoulder wounds from a baton


    Mr K had his whole body battered and suffered a head wound from a bicycle chain.

  8.  There were several people unaccounted for that evening.


   9.  The police did not follow up any of the beatings or make any arrests.

  10.  All the labour were told to leave by Friday 22 March and a threat of further beatings was given.

  11.  All the workers, their families and their few possessions were moved into the grading shed within the perimeter of the homestead fence.


  12.  I was able to organise negotiations with the squatters, that the labour will go on leave on 22 March. They agreed to let us have seven workers of their choice and we had to dismiss our cook and workshop manager. They threatened us with further violence if we did not co-operate.

  13.  At about 8.00 pm, the squatters walked past the barns where our workers were staying and started to verbally threaten them that they were going to enter the fence and started stoning the workers through the fence.

  14.  I managed to position all the labour around the perimeter of the fence in self-defence armed with batons; this chased the squatters away and nothing further developed.


  15.  Further police reports were made "through the channels". We asked for police protection to protect our tobacco crop and possessions, but were told that they could not be seen to be taking sides and they could not help.

  16.  We tried to hire armed security guards to protect us but were told that it was a political situation and they could not help us.

  17.  We paid our labour leave pay on Friday afternoon, but we had to escort them off the property to the main road as there were threats that they would be beaten when they leave.

  18.  Finally at 4.30 pm the Chief Inspector gave us his personal cellphone number in case the situation flared up again.


  19.  Our sheds were broken into and approximately $100,000.00 were stolen from them.

  20.  Our security guard was chased away as the local war vet Mr L said he would look after the property.


  21.  I took my security guard as a witness that an empty scotch cart had passed our gate at 11.00 pm and returned at 1.00 pm full of equipment, further evidence was filed with the police.


  22.  We made a police report and spent several hours in the police station with two other neighbours that were also looted. Approximately $18 million dollars between the three of us.

  23.  Our last seven workers were further threatened with death, one ran away under the pressure.

  24.  They were told that they were supposed to be gone by month end.

  25.  I tried to talk to several settlers eg Mr A who refused to talk to me without his committee. They agreed to meet with me on Thursday.


  26.  I picked up a policeman from Karoi, to come and make an investigation and report on my shed that was broken into.

  27.  On arriving to check the damage, we saw the settler Mr L leaving the property with two wheelbarrows full of equipment and property.

  28.  The policeman with me said he was unable to arrest him as this was a political issue not theft.

  29.  Mr L said he had a letter permitting him to remove our property, which was a copy of the government paper stating that property left on the farm was the possession of the squatters. This was his justification for theft.


  30.  The squatters had arranged to meet me at 9.00 am. The meeting degenerated as I told them I was not able to meet their demands of $5,000,000.00 (compensation they were demanding for their cotton crop from two years ago that I had removed after the Courts had said they were planted illegally).

  31.  By this time a group of about 30 squatters managed to pull down the gates of a ten thousand volt electric fence and a further security fence.

  32.  They began looting my workers' belongings, tractor batteries and further equipment. I managed to get help via the radio from the community and the police were able to despatch a riot police unit who were there within half an hour.

  33.  The Police managed to calm the situation temporarily and as they were on their way back to Karoi, the squatters managed to cut our security fence on the further side of the property and began looting our back cottage. Beds, tables, mattresses and house contents were looted within minutes.

  34.  Due to the police and community members being there to react the damage was minimal.

  35.  At this point we were fearing for our lives, our home, the farming equpiment and the tobacco, which was our life investment after 42 years.

  36.  We were able to organise the tobacco to move to Norton (approximately 400 km away) for grading.

  37.  The community of Karoi stepped in to help move our farm and 20 lorries and labour were organised to move our property the following day.


  38.  The police were able to offer us armed police protection for six days, thus we had a short space of time to pack up 42 years and 20 barns of tobacco still hanging in the barn.

  39.  The miracle of living in a small Zimbabwean farming community are the people; 200 labour and 60 community members arrived to lay to rest an era on Farm.

  40.  Two homes took a day and a half to pack and move without our knowing the destination of our belongings, the women of the community gathered together and completely furnished a house in Karoi town with our furniture—a home to walk into after the trauma of the previous days, proving to be an incredible gesture of humanity.

  41.  So that was it . . . 130 lorry loads of equipment . . . 20 tractor loads of implements . . . a 30 ton removal rig and trailer . . . seven 30 ton rigs of tobacco. A whole lifetime—42 years was gone in 72 hours. A week later and the last days on Farm X are still sinking in . . . did we do the right thing? Could we have handled it differently? Should we have stood our ground as we only had a section five? The hardest emotions to deal with in this story are our parents. This is the only life they have ever known, a lifetime's work, ingenuity and dreams. Farm X was built when mum and dad bought crown land from the former government in 1960. Not many people would have taken the risk on this land because of the intense amount of lion and tsetse flies. They lived in mud huts for five months and developed their dream through hard work, determination and guts. Around them grew a community who have become their family. Everything that has made them secure and proud of their heritage has been torn away from them without the respect they deserve. In any African community it is the elder that is respected.

  42.  How sad it was yesterday to go back to Farm X to collect a few final memories out of the homestead garden, an incredible garden grown with love over the years. Only this time to be met at the gates by a young male placed there by a government official who would not let us into the property as the "land committee were now the custodians" . . . how? why? . . . is this their right? Our dad, being spoken to without the respect he deserves because of the colour of his skin. Kudzai Vakuru! Does this youngster have any idea what Dad has had to go through for him to be standing inside the fence of the property he now "protects"? It certainly is this injustice that has torn our hearts apart—we all weep. What we find hard as third generation Zimbabweans is that this is OUR home. It should have nothing to do with the colour of our skin, or from where our ancestors came. Throughout history land and continents have evolved through predecessors before us. If this be the situation: America belongs to the North American Indians, Australia belongs to the Aborigines . . . it is the past that has given us our identity. As Zimbabweans we need to live in the HERE AND NOW.

  43.  Our workers return from their month's leave today . . . how do we explain the events of the last week? How do we tell 50 families that we have no job, accommodation or food for them. Where will they go? These families are another source of worry for us. Our workers have risked their lives for us, they have worked beyond the call of duty. They have been beaten, their possessions looted twice and been threatened that if they return to the area of the farm they will be killed as they are now "sell outs". Many of them do not have places to return to and Farm X was also their home.

  44.  We can only now look ahead, we are builders, makers and achievers . . . and it will all be again some day. We are fully aware of the material aspects of all this, but somehow it is not this that we grieve. As with the loss of a close family member, it is the relationship that never again will be. We thank God for the memories . . .

A Farmer and his wife

Revd Dr Alan Megahey

May 2002

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