Saturday, April 17, 2010
Invasion of South African owned farm
Where is the South African Govt now and why are they not protecting the interests of SA citizens?
Farm invaders, assisted by police, yesterday took over a SA game ranch just 46km from the SA border. The game guards were forced to leave and one of the owners was arrested in front of his three severely traumatised young children - the youngest is just four years old – while their mother was away on business at the time.
Watch this space... more of this will be coming to South Africa.
Arthur Ferguson, a horticulturalist on Benfer Citrus Estate, was arrested on Wednesday evening, and is being held in a filthy cell at the Beitbridge police station – rural section.
The chief game guard on Benlynian Game Ranch, nearby Benfer Citrus Estate, also owned by the South African shareholders, was forced by invaders to leave the ranch. A truck later arrived at the ranch and the occupants began stealing items of value from the lodge. They told the game guard they would be moving in today (Friday).
Below is the media release by the Commercial Farmers’ Union.
South African-owned Zim game ranch illegally occupied in defiance of BIPPA
In defiance of a bilateral investment promotion and protection agreement (BIPPA) signed by South Africa and Zimbabwe on November 27 last year, a South African-owned game ranch was taken over yesterday at 17h00 in the Beitbridge area of Matabeleland South.
This is the first contravention of the BIPPA which protects South African investments in Zimbabwe from the date of signing and includes agricultural land.
The deal was lauded as being the key to unlocking millions of rands worth of investment from South Africa.
Just 46 km from the South African border, Benlynian Ranch is a highly regarded destination for conservationists, overseas tourists and South African visitors, generating valuable foreign currency for Zimbabwe.
For months the owners and their employees have been subjected to ongoing harassment, hampering operations on the game farm and nearby Benfer citrus estate, also owned by the South African shareholders.
In February, the police were instructed by the National Land Inspectorate to prosecute the son of one of the owners although there was no official case against him.
During March, a young game guard from the unit was arrested by the police without warning and placed in custody. He was subsequently taken to the public prosecutor, who admitted there was no legal reason to prosecute, and he was finally released a few days later.
According to commentators who cannot be named for security reasons, the local police are under significant pressure from police headquarters in Harare to force the few remaining commercial farmers off their land.
Benlynian is an ecologically significant game ranch - described by a prominent British botanist as having the finest riverine forest of its type he had seen worldwide.
The land is totally unsuitable for resettlement as it is situated in Zimbabwe’s Ecological Region 6, which is classified as semi-desert, with the lowest rainfall in the country and the highest recorded evaporation.
Due to the shallow basalt soils, rocky ridges and lack of natural surface water, the land is officially categorised as not fit for human habitation and is also unsuitable for cattle and cropping.
Benlynian Range was purchased in 1984 after receipt of an official letter of no interest from the Zimbabwean government, which had bought a large section of land across the Umzingwane River and required no additional land in the area.
Over 24 years, the owners sank boreholes, installed electricity and transformed the 20 000 ha ranch into a viable wildlife sanctuary protected by 75 km of 16 strand game fencing.
They stocked it with giraffe, zebra, wildebees, eland, kudu, impala, bushbuck, duiker and steenbok and created a haven for cheetah, leopard and, more recently two breeding packs of the highly endangered wild dog.
With the well-documented slaughter of Zimbabwe’s prized wildlife throughout the conservancies and commercial farms, as well as in the national parks over the past decade, Benlynian Ranch’s importance as a game sanctuary and gene pool has become increasingly critical.
Violations of rule of law continue – BIPPA protected Zim ranch
The citrus estate, owned by Ian Ferguson who also built up the nearby Benlynian Game Ranch in Zimbabwe’s dry Beitbridge area into a prized tourism destination are South African citizens and both properties are protected by a Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement signed by South Africa and Zimbabwe on November 27.
Despite having no grounds for the arrest, Sergeant Mbaiwa refused requests by Ferguson’s lawyer and the Public Prosecutor to release him. According to the Public Prosecutor, there were no instructions to arrest or detain anyone and the police were only to serve a summons. However, the papers were so chaotic that he felt he could not handle the case and said it should be referred to the Provincial Magistrate’s Court in Gwanda.
A provisional date of May 5 has been set.
Speaking from South Africa, Ian said that Sergeant Mbaiwa has been threatening the family for more than a year and has become exceptionally provocative and vitriolic.http://www.boerevryheid.co.za/forums/showthread.php?t=22627