Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Farm invading MP evicted, but warns he will return

Farm invading MP evicted, but warns he will return

By Alex Bell
08 September 2010

An MP behind the invasion of a farm in Somabuhla has finally been evicted
from the property, but has warned he will return to take over the land.

MP Jabulani Mangena has led a campaign of harassment, vandalism and violence
against Philip and Ellen Hapelt on their Grasslands farm, claiming he has an
offer letter entitling him to the property. Late last year, the Hapelts were
brutally beaten in an attack the family believes was meant to drive them
from their farm. Over the past few months the situation has continued to
worsen, with Mangena’s hired men increasing their intimidatory tactics
against the elderly couple.

The Hapelts many years ago voluntarily gave up the majority of their land
for the sake of ‘reform’, under an agreement that would allow them to remain
on their homestead with a small portion of farming land. They have two court
orders that entitle them to live on the farm without fear of invasion or
persecution, but they were forced to seek two successive evictions orders in
an effort to get Mangena’s men off their land. But Mangena has openly
disregarded the rulings of the courts and has previously threatened the
Hapelts with violence.

Local police meant to carry out the evictions, have previously refused to
assist the Hapelts, expressing their own fears of Mangena. But to the family’s
amazement, the police and the Sheriff of the Court finally started eviction
proceedings last Friday. According to the Hapelt’s daughter Lauren, Manegna’s
farm manager was frantically trying to get the eviction halted the entire
time, and eventually warned that he would be back.

“We are all a bit dumb struck that the eviction took place. We have been
fighting so hard for this with so little progress. The fact that the High
Court order has been enforced is something we hoped for but never dreamed
would happen,” Lauren told SW Radio Africa.

Lauren continued that they have no doubt that Mangena will be back, but she
said the family is heartened that the police finally respected the rule of
the law by upholding the court orders. She added that she hoped that this
would be the case for other farmers facing a similar situation in Somabuhla.

“There seems to be another push to completely remove the last vestige of
commercial farmers. Rumors abound that a land audit is about to take place
so there is a frantic scrabble for the last few commercial farms, before
this takes place,” She said.


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