A FARMER is battling for his life at Masvingo General Hospital after he was struck with an axe in the head by war veterans at the weekend in a new wave of farm invasions targeting blacks.
A second farmer’s car and house were torched in skirmishes that have left the Masvingo farming community shell-shocked.
Mufaro Mukaro was initially admitted at Ndanga District Hospital on Sunday, but was transferred to Masvingo General Hospital yesterday as his condition was said to be serious. He was reportedly rushed to hospital with the axe still stuck in his head.
So critical is Mukaro’s condition that even his relatives are not being allowed to see him except his wife. About 10 war veterans involved in the violence at the Masvingo East farms are believed to have been arrested.
Masvingo provincial police spokesperson Inspector Charity Mazula could not be reached for comment as her phone went unanswered.
The case was reported under police case number 2098509.
Tsaurai Lawrence Stemere (76), who owns Sundowns Farm, survived the brutal attack on Saturday, but his Nissan Twin Cab vehicle was reduced to a shell while his house was set ablaze by the marauding war veterans mob. Stemere lost property worth thousands of dollars including his clothing and was only left with what he was wearing.
Narrating his ordeal, Stemere said affected farm owners were helping police evict war veterans numbering around 300, but after the police had left, the former freedom fighters assaulted them.
“I’m lucky to be alive. We sped off after they barricaded the road with tree branches and started pelting us with stones. They then struck Mukaro with an axe in the head after smashing his car while he was inside. They were so heartless. Mukaro was then rushed to Ndanga Hospital and I went home. I found my farmhouse torched and my car reduced to ashes,” the visibly shaken Stemere said yesterday.
Stemere said he bought his farm in 1995 before the government’s land reform programme and estimated that he lost property valued at $70 000 in the inferno.
Masvingo North MP Davis Marapira, in whose constituency the Masvingo East farms are situated, confirmed the disturbances and said it was against government policy to invade black-owned farms.
“It is very illegal to occupy black-owned farms. It is against the laws of the country. The invaders are taking the law unto their own hands. Right now they left a farmer critically injured and another without his property. We do not encourage that,” he said.
Marapira is also the Agriculture deputy minister responsible for Cropping, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development.
This is not the first time that such violent disturbances have rocked the Masvingo East farms where war veterans accuse new black owners of under-utilising the land. Late last year, anti-riot police evicted around 300 land invaders on the farms and torched their shacks.
War veteran Ruben Chikono has since been dragged to the Masvingo Magistrates’ Court charged with inciting the former combatants to invade the farms. His case is still before the courts.
Some of the Masvingo East farms that have been invaded include Nidspruit, Potyo, Thankerton, Chigumedhe, Mudzikisi, Chipare, Pakai and Mukuta.