CL/175/11(a)-R.2- 31 -
Geneva, 1st October 2004
December 2001 the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Settlement signed the relevant acquisition order. However, upon appeal, that order was set aside by the High Court on 16 October 2002, and the Minister subsequently withdrew his application to the Administrative Court of Zimbabwe for an order to confirm the acquisition. The Court took note of the withdrawal on 8 May 2003. However, on 19 December 2003, a complaint was lodged with the police by the Ministry to the effect that Mr. Bennett did not comply with the acquisition order and should therefore be prosecuted. Agents of the Agricultural & Rural Development Authority have since advised Mr. Bennett’s employee’s to stop working on the grounds that the Government had taken over the farm. An Urgent Chamber Application was filed with the High Court on 19 February 2000. On 25 February 2004, High Court Justice Karwi granted a provisional order that Bennett Brothers Farming Enterprises was given leave to remain and carry on its business on Charleswood Estate. The State agents were ordered not to interfere in any way with the farming and business operations and to immediately vacate the farm. However, the Order has not been implemented. Previously, in April and November 2003, orders to vacate the farm and an interdiction to interfere with the farming business had been issued by the High Court and Mutare Magistrate court, respectively.
State agents have ignored all these orders. Charleswood Estate has witnessed violence since the election campaign when the farm was invaded for more than 20 days by ZANU-PF supporters who looted Mr. Bennett’s homestead, stole fuel and assaulted the farm manager and workers. As a result of the threats made to Mr. Bennett’s wife who was six months pregnant, she suffered severe trauma and had a miscarriage. Since his election, which he won in a strongly held ZANU-PF territory, soldiers moved into the farm and started intimidating farm workers; after the land acquisition order had been set aside by the court, the soldiers moved to an adjacent farm, but continued to use the land and to intimidate workers. Violence escalated in late January 2004 after the Governor of Manicaland had threatened to evict Mr. Bennett from the farm. On 6 February, three employees were abducted from the farm and taken to a war veteran’s base where one of them was raped and the others sexually assaulted. The same day, the war veterans beat up young farm workers, allegedly with hot iron rods, accusing them of stealing maize. On 8 February, war veterans attacked the house of the farm’s public liaison officer, Amos Makaza, with the intention of killing him. Farm workers who heard of the attack arrived to rescue him and, in the ensuing commotion the war veterans sought refuge at the soldier’s camp. The farm workers responded to the rape, beatings and the attack on Makaza by burning down the huts of the war veterans. Soldiers then opened fire on them, killing one farm worker and injuring another. The soldiers then pelted Mr. Makaza’s house with petrol bombs, burning it to the ground together with his car. Mr. Bennett reported that violence, rape and beatings had continued since then. He provided a list of all incidents that had happened since the first invasion of the farm in May 2000 until the end of March 2004. The list is attached to the report (Annex 5).
Mr. Bennett also provided a detailed written account of the invasion, on 20 March 2003, of the farm of his farm manager, Norman Gardiner, when soldiers rounded up workers on the farm, beating them up with hosepipes, sticks, wire batons and other objects and stole property worth $ 2,022,500.-. Workers sustained broken arms, fractures and open wounds as well as severe bruising. They were taken for treatment to the Avenues Clinic in Harare.
The police memorandum of April 2004 refers to the following incidents on the farm:
On 31 October 2001, Mr. Bennett had a misunderstanding with Charles Major Muusha over a piece of land of the farm which had been allocated to Mr. Muusha. Mr. Bennett destroyed the maize which the latter had planted there. Prosecution was declined on 16 November 2001.
Between 31 August and 8 November 2001, Mr. Bennett failed to register with GMB as a producer of maize, 1,200 tonnes of which were found at the farm. The case is still to be heard.
On 27 March 2004, Juliet Mamvura, a farm employee, was raped. The accused, Constable Marira was taken to court and was remanded out of custody on $ 20,000.- bail.
On 6 February 2004, Vilet Ngwenya, another farm worker, was raped by settler Chamunorwa Muusha. The matter was taken to court and the accused was remanded in custody. A trial date has not yet been set.
On 8 February 204, farm workers attacked Joseph Kamuhwe (the report quotes him also as Nyamuhwe), a member of the National Army, whilst he was on duty. During the attack, one of the workers, the now deceased Shame Manyenyeka, is alleged to have attempted to disarm the soldier who shot him dead in the process and injured another farm worker. The soldier was arrested and charged for murder and attempted murder, respectively. He was remanded on bail and a trial hearing is set for 6 June 2004.