The President of the Zimbabwean Senate, Edna Madzongwe, arrived at Stockdale Citrus Estate in Chegutu, Mashonaland West Province, at 9 pm yesterday, brandishing a copy of the state-owned Herald newspaper.
Senator Madzongwe, who is a powerful member of Zanu PF, was accompanied by approximately 20 people including four policemen from the Chegutu Police Station. Assistant Inspector Bepura was among them.
Senator Madzongwe’s spokespeople told Peter Etheredge, whose family owns Stockdale Citrus Estate, that he had to stop all work on the farm and gave him a copy of the Herald to read which apparently gave them authority to issue this order.
No legal papers were given to Mr Etheredge.
Senator Madzongwe, who is the beneficiary of a number of other farms which are now unproductive, has been trying to take Stockdale Citrus Estate since May 2007.
The farm currently employs 350 people and produces approximately 6 000 tons of citrus each year.
The Etheredges have had a very hard time of late. In June last year their farm was looted over a period of some weeks. Police refused to attend and their entire household possessions, as well as tractors, vehicles and other goods from the farm were stolen.
Losses amounted to approximately US$ 600,000.
James, Peter’s brother, and Kerry, Peter’s wife, were beaten in front of the police while trying to load some of their possessions which had been dumped by the roadside.
They eventually managed to get back to their farm but more recently have had invaders living on their property.
The Messenger of the Court evicted the invaders on the basis of a High Court order but they came back again immediately. Thereafter the police have complained of a lack of manpower to evict the invaders.
However, this did not stop the police arriving with a team of eight people to put Peter Etheredge in jail last Thursday after he tried to stop the same illegal invaders from further theft. To do so, he fired two shots in the air.
As a result, he languished in jail on a bare concrete floor until the following evening with 37 other people in a cell 6 metres by 6 metres.
The Etheredges are protected by the SADC Tribunal. Advocate Prince Machaya, acting for the Zimbabwe Government as the Deputy Attorney General, made it clear in open court that the Zimbabwe government would abide by whatever the SADC Tribunal ruled.
However, Etheredge said, this hasn't stopped Senator Madzongwe from taking the law into her own hands along with various others.
Via Press Release