Accessibility links

Zimbabwe Police Continue Arrests of White Farmers - 2002-08-19

Zimbabwe police say they will continue arresting farmers who have defied the law and remained on their land and in their homesteads. A police spokesman said 193 farmers have been apprehended and that others who defied the August 8 deadline to leave their farms would also be taken into custody when they are found.

The spokesman did not say how many remain in custody.

Some farmers in parts of the Matabeleland province had to pay a minimal amount of bail, and were allowed to return home to wind up their operations within a month.

At Nymandhlovu police station, 13 farmers waited for hours to be processed through the district court. Police would not allow the press or the detained men's families to attend the court hearing. Many white farmers voluntarily handed themselves over to the police to be charged, in solidarity with their colleagues already in jail, and to try to avoid incarceration.

In other parts of the country, lawyers representing the farmers said bail conditions amounted to conviction, in cases where farmers were freed, but not allowed to return home ahead of their trials at some later date.

The deadline set by President Robert Mugabe's government will strip 95 percent of about 3,300 white farmers still in Zimbabwe of their homes and businesses.

Several hundred farmers have already quit their homes, many of them forever.

About 1.5 million farm workers and their families are directly affected by the purge of white farmers. Many of them have no other homes but those on the commercial farms.

Political science Professor Masipule Sithole, from the University of Zimbabwe, said Monday, the evictions, arrests and harassment of white farmers are racist, cruel and barbaric.

He said the Zimbabwe government chose an inopportune time to evict white farmers who were growing food, when half the population was on the verge of starvation.