Sleeping Like a Hare Millions Billions Trillions    
African Tears Beyond Tears Innocent Victims Imire Can you hear the drums, by Cathy Buckle

Wiped off the land without a trace
April 9, 2011, 10:54 am


Dear Family and Friends,

Zimbabweans began to take notice of Mike Campbell, his wife Angela and their son in law Ben Freeth in December 2007. Having exhausted their legal options in Zimbabwe, Mike Campbell tried to stop the seizure of his farm by going to the regional SADC Tribunal. Just before Christmas 2007 the SADC Tribunal ruled in their favour. The Tribunal set a hearing date for January and granted interim relief which: “orders that the Republic of Zimbabwe shall take no steps ... to evict from or interfere with the peaceful residence on and the beneficial use of the farm known as Mount Carmel."

Following the interim order, Ben Freeth wrote to JAG (Justice for Agriculture) and his words were invigorating to those of us farmers who had already lost everything, and challenging to those whose turn hadn’t yet come. In his first letter Ben wrote: “Sitting on the sidelines in secret "dialogue" simply will not do. It has failed.  It never had a chance of ever working.  The truth of this may hurt for some…”

The challenge came in his second letter where Ben wrote: “Do we continue to allow these injustices to continue so that we are then wiped off the land without trace; or do we try to stand for justice and the future of this country and indeed our future on this continent?”

A few months later, on the 30th June 2008, a chilling email came telling of the abduction of Mike and Angela Campbell and Ben Freeth from their home on Mount Carmel Farm in Chegutu. It had happened two days after the presidential run off elections. The JAG message read:

“Mercifully, at midnight, Mike and Angela Campbell and Ben Freeth were released at a house of a black lady in Kadoma.  All three have been severely beaten.  Mike has serious concussion and a broken collar bone and fingers.  Angela has a broken arm, in two places. Ben has a badly swollen and totally closed eye and feet severely beaten…. The purpose for the brutal attack and vicious beating carried out at Pixton Mine (youth militia torture camp) was the forced compliance, under extreme duress, with the signing of a formal withdrawal of the Campbell Case from the SADC Tribunal.  The Campbells and Freeth were taken by ‘war vet’ Gilbert Moyo and approximately twenty thugs to the mine.  They were viciously beaten until they complied with the signing of a withdrawal of the case….”

On 28 November 2008, the SADC court delivered its ruling, with the five panel judges finding the land reform programme to be racist and in violation of international treaties and human rights. Justice Louis Mondhlane said that constitutional Amendment 17 put in place in 2005 to clear the way for compulsory acquisition of land in Zimbabwe had resulted in expropriation targeting only white farmers. “Its effects make it discriminatory because targeted agricultural land is owned by white farmers” Mondhlane said.

Zimbabwe refused to be bound by the SADC Tribunal ruling.

In 2009, Mike Campbell and his family left Mount Carmel farm after it was burnt down by so called ‘land invaders.’ A few weeks ago Mike Campbell launched yet another application to the SADC regional Tribunal. For the first time in legal history, all 15 leaders of the Southern Africa Development Community were cited as respondents.

Sadly Mike Campbell passed away this week but he will not be forgotten. His brave and determined fight for justice will always be remembered; he will not have been wiped off the land without a trace. One day, when Zimbabwe again respects property rights, we will have Mike Campbell to thank for showing us the way.

Until next week, thanks for reading, love cathy.

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