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
TUESDAY 19 MARCH
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
7. We took the following injured workers
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
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.
WEDNESDAY 20 MARCH
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.
THURSDAY 21 MARCH
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.
FRIDAY 22 MARCH
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
18. Finally at 4.30 pm the Chief Inspector
gave us his personal cellphone number in case the situation flared
SUNDAY 31 MARCH
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.
MONDAY 1 APRIL
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.
TUESDAY 2 APRIL
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
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.
WEDNESDAY 3 APRIL
26. I picked up a policeman from Karoi,
to come and make an investigation and report on my shed that was
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.
THURSDAY 4 APRIL
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.
FRIDAY 5 APRIL
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
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 furniturea 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 lifetime42 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 apartwe 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