Beitbridge conservancy invaded, tourists kicked out


HARARE – Invaders on Wednesday stormed a wildlife conservancy in Beitbridge, in a bid to take over a game farm, and in the process harassed foreign guests booked at the lodge.

This comes amid a wildlife conservation crisis in Zimbabwe, as over 100 elephants have died of cyanide poisoning at Hwange National Park.

Ian Ferguson, who together with his family owns the farm, said the “aggressive war veterans’” invasion of the farm was illegal as they did not have any rights whatsoever to the property.

“They were extremely aggressive and demanded that all our staff vacate their quarters and to get off the farm immediately and jerked some of the staff around and demanded the keys to the coldroom as they wanted to steal meat,” Ferguson said.

“They then went down to the Hunting Lodge where we have four overseas hunting clients and two professional hunters.

“They told the professional hunter to pack up and move the clients out which the professional hunter refused to do.”

Some of the war vets identified by Fergurson include Rambelane Choene, Steven Mohadi, the younger brother of Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi, Julias Seziba and Juel Muleya aka Majuta.

Ferguson said a bid to get relief from Beitbridge police was fruitless as they were friendlier to the war vets and started intimidating the professional hunter.

“We got hold of the police in Beitbridge who sent out three plain clothes Law and Order details who demanded that the clients show their passports and then harassed the professional hunter demanding permits etc and then made him take them down to where a problem animal elephant had been shot that National Parks had been informed about and all this at 1:30 in the morning,” Ferguson said.

“This all happened in the company of the war vets who they seemed very chummy with and then eventually left after telling the hunter that he must leave with the clients but did absolutely nothing with regards to the illegal invaders.

“The war vets said they were sent by the district administrator but on phoning him he denied it although we are quite sure that he was aware that it was going to happen and believe or so we were told by a police detail that the lands officer issued them all with new offer letters and told them they could go and occupy their so-called plots.”

Government last month announced that any farm invasion whether on black or white-owned farms was illegal.

Lands and Rural Resettlement minister Douglas Mombeshora said the issue of land redistribution needed to be guided by clear cut laws and policies as the ministry was working towards a Land Commission Bill.

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