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White farmer arrested for insulting Mugabe
By Pindai Dube
Monday, 25 July 2011 13:04
BULAWAYO - Police have arrested a 76-year-old white commercial farmer and
miner, Mike Van Royen, in a move viewed as meant to facilitate the grabbing
of his farming and mining business by Zanu PF officials.
Van Royen was arrested on Friday in Bulawayo on charges of insulting
President Robert Mugabe.
He runs Cynthia Mine and Asher Estates in Matobo district in Matabeleland
South province, which was a scene of earlier clashes between a group of Zanu
PF youth and his workers.
Van Royen told the Daily News that the youth were led by Zanu PF Bulawayo
provincial deputy secretary for transport Joel Tshuma, who could be eyeing
Before Van Royen’s arrest on Friday, Tshuma led a group of Zanu PF youths to
Asher Estates Farm and Cynthia Mine on Monday and locked all gates and
threatened Van Royen’s workers, according to the ageing farmer.
They subsequently barred Van Royen from entering the farm and mine, which he
has been running for the past 36 years.
Charges against Van Royen are that last week he was phoned by Tshuma over
the farm and mining businesses and he told the Zanu PF activist “to go and
hang together with Mugabe”.
He is being charged under Section 33 of the Criminal Law (Codification and
Van Royen’s lawyer, Tawanda Mashayamombe of Mashayamombe and Company
confirmed the arrest. He said he had already secured a High Court order
granted by the High Court Judge for his client’s release.
“He is facing charges of insulting the President but the High Court has
already granted an order for his release on medical grounds. He is suffering
from a heart problem. So as I am speaking to you I am at the Bulawayo
Central police station and police have released him into my custody until he
appears in court on Monday (today),”said Mashayamombe.
Contacted for comment, Tshuma said: “I know Van Royen but all other things
which people are saying, that I beat his workers are lies. They just want to
tarnish my image.”
There are currently just over 200 white commercial farmers left out of at
least 4 500 white farmers who used to farm in Zimbabwe before land invasions
began in 2000.
Mugabe has repeatedly defended the often-violent land reforms as necessary
to correct historical imbalances.
Critics say the land reform went overboard and effectively turned into a
grab-and-loot exercise by the ruling elite and their connections.