New Zimbabwe (London)

Zimbabwe: Slain Farmer - CFU Appeals for Help

ZIMBABWE'S embattled white commercial farmers have extended a begging bowl to well-wishers asking for help to settle medical bills for slain Malcolm Francis, 72, and his daughter, Cathrine, 35.

The Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) is also up in arms with the authorities' apparent reluctance to condemn the pair's gruesome murder.

Francis, a Guruve commercial farmer, was last week waylaid and mugged together with his daughter by a gang as they took an evening stroll near their home.

They were rushed to a Harare hospital where - a week later - they succumbed to their injuries while undergoing treatment in the medical facility's Intensive Care Unit.

The attackers' reasons still remain unknown although the farmers' group strongly suspects it was a politically motivated attack.

At a press briefing at the CFU's Milton Park offices Friday, union president Charles Taffs said Francis and his daughter left a huge hospital bill that has created a burden to the grieving family and immediately made a passionate appeal for donations.

"The end result of this is that the remaining family members have now been left with the burden of a huge debt of medical aid shortfalls and extra expenses which they simply do not have the funds to pay. There were no insurance policies to assist," said Taffs.

"The president of the Commercial Farmers' Union has therefore decided to send out this desperate appeal for donations to assist the grieving family."

Taffs said the donations shall be channelled towards medical bills, the payment of funeral and memorial expenses as well as assist the relocation of surviving family members.

He also linked the attacks to government's violent land seizures which broke out in 2000 and claimed the lives of over a dozen white land owners.

"We condemn this cowardly attack on an elderly man and a young woman and its barbaric brutality in the strongest of terms and find these actions wholly unacceptable to us as a civilised," Taffs said.

"In addition, we are greatly troubled by the total silence from our authorities, as well as our leaders, around this event, so much that we are left wondering if this crime was not sanctioned or condoned by some higher office.

"We most sincerely hope that this is not the case and that the relevant authorities such as the police as well as the others will leave no stone unturned in their pursuit of justice.

"We would at this juncture remind the authorities that there are many other murders and other atrocities committed over the last 14 years during the land reform exercise that are yet to be resolved and their perpetrators have yet to be identified and held to account."

Francis and his daughter's killings almost coincided with fresh invasions on Chiredzi and Triangle sugarcane plantations, leading to arrests on scores of war veterans.

News of the murders does not board well with the current government's recent attempts to present a reformed outlook to the rich Western world.

President Mugabe is keen on breathing life back into a battered economy as well as salvage his soiled legacy during the twilight of his long political career.

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