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White Farmers Released in Zimbabwe - 2001-08-22


Twenty-one white commercial farmers accused of attacking land invaders have been released on bail from prison in Zimbabwe. They were released from Chinhoyi prison two days after a High Court judge allowed them bail.

With their heads completely shaved by prison officers, 20 of the white farmers were met by their families in emotional reunions. They were immediately driven away from Chinhoyi as part of their bail conditions, which bar them from the area and their homes for at least four weeks.

Most of the families and friends of the farmers have shaved their heads in solidarity

One of the men, who is 77 years old, became ill shortly after being arrested. He has been allowed to go home for medical treatment.

Prison officials refused to release the men earlier because they said they had not received written instructions.

All 21 are due to appear again in court in Chinhoyi on August 24. They have yet to be charged since being arrested on August 6, following a clash with farm invaders and pro-government militants.

That clash unleashed two weeks of violent invasions of white-owned farms by black squatters and pro-government militants. More than 40 white-owned farms were looted and some homes burned.

Elsewhere in Zimbabwe, angry residents of the resort town of Victoria Falls, on the border with Zambia, forced many shops to close Tuesday to protest rising food prices. The residents also demonstrated against shoppers from Zambia who they said were taking advantage of cheaper prices and buying all the food.

A Harare newspaper reported that the protestors also forced the border crossing point to close. But a Zimbabwe immigration official at Victoria Falls said although there had been a disturbance, the border stayed open.

Meanwhile, veterinary authorities in Zimbabwe say 7,000 cattle are to be slaughtered to stop hoof-and-mouth disease from spreading from Bulawayo, the capital of the western Matabeleland Province. The highly contagious cattle disease was detected Monday.

Zimbabwe has stopped all beef exports, which analysts say could mean a loss of $100 million in export earnings.

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