A commercial farmer forcibly evicted from his Chipinge property over the weekend is to seek the intervention of the High Court, to allow him back on his farm.
Trevor Gifford, the former president of the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) was forced off his property on Sunday evening and is still being prevented from returning.
Gifford was hosting a lunch with friends when a mob of land invaders arrived on his property Sunday afternoon. The mob became very threatening, eventually invading the property and barricading Gifford, his wife and their guests in the house. Gifford recounted his ordeal to SW Radio Africa on Tuesday and explained that the situation became volatile and abusive.
"The mob was very threatening and abusive but I was reluctant to leave my property," Gifford said. "Eventually some friends convinced me to pack my belongings and get out, before things turned violent."
Gifford explained that he and two other people were "held hostage" until late in the evening, and he was forced to sign a letter saying that the house had been emptied. He also wrote a note to accompany the letter, saying that he was under duress and had been forced to sign the document. But he explained that with no help from the police, there was very little else he could do.
"The police have been instructed not to help any white farmer or they will be locked up as punishment, so there's no help there," Gifford said. "I will be making an application to the High Court to get back on my land."
Gifford is one of over 16 farmers who have faced attacks by land invaders in recent weeks, in an offensive that appears to deliberately target farmers with court orders meant to protect them on their properties.
Current CFU Vice President Charles Taffs has told SW Radio Africa that the attacks are a direct result of orders by Didymus Mutasa to ignore court orders protecting land. Mutasa recently ordered a group of people occupying a coffee plantation in Chipinge to remain on the property, despite a court order demanding they vacate the land.
Gifford meanwhile explained that the current onslaught against coffee farmers in Chipinge was threatening the entire coffee industry in Zimbabwe. He said that at least four coffee farmers have been evicted from their farms in the last ten days.
He said more than 6,000 coffee growers stand to lose international support as a result of the current land invasions, saying that "these land invasions are clearly not in the best interest of thousands of people dependent on the industry."
"There is programme developed with the European Union to support coffee growers in Zimbabwe, but the current land invasions are putting the entire programme in jeopardy," Gifford said.
Gifford meanwhile was in court on Tuesday where he is being prosecuted for remaining on his property 'illegally'. That case has been remanded until later in the month.