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Land-grab murders ‘swept under the carpet’
By Alex Bell
2 April 2013
Concern is high that the atrocities of the ZANU PF-led land grab campaign, including murders and rapes, are being swept under the carpet, following the acquittal of two murder suspects last week.
The two war vets, Albert Ncube and Robert Nyathi, were arrested in 2001 in connection with the killing of Nyamandlovu farmer Gloria Olds. Olds, who was 72 at the time of her death, was shot in the early hours of the morning on her property by men wielding AK47 rifles. Forensic reports showed that she was shot in the legs, and while she tried to crawl to safety, her three dogs were shot. The killers then opened fire on the wounded woman, killing her.
Ncube and Nyathi were arrested after being implicated by Olds’ farm worker, Foster Moyo, who they allegedly kidnapped a day before the murder. The pair was bailed after their arrest and the case against them has been pending since then.
The case has faced numerous delays and there have been a number of prosecution failures, including the fact that three different prosecutors dropped the case after quitting the Attorney General’s office.
Last week they were acquitted by Judge Maphios Cheda, who said there was not enough evidence to implicate the two.
Charles Taffs, the President of the Commercial Farmers Union, told SW Radio Africa that the latest development “was a very sad day” for Zimbabwe’s commercial farmers, who he described as “isolated both in and outside the country.”
“There is no justice for the murder and the rapes committed. And until the rule of law has been re-enacted in Zimbabwe, this country will never move on,” Taffs said.
He added: “It is troubling that all the crimes of the land reform programme have been swept under the carpet, and it means that justice is further denied.”
Olds was killed a year after her son Martin Olds was murdered, following a two hour gun battle on his property. The fight started after at least 70 farm invaders launched a dawn raid on his home at Compensation Farm in Matabeleland. He was repeatedly wounded during the gun fight, which also saw molotov cocktails being thrown at his home.
He was the second farmer to die in the land grab campaign launched by Robert Mugabe, in a thinly veiled patronage based reward system. His mother would later become the 8th victim a year later.