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Farmer murdered

Gift Phiri

A BANKET farmer was on Sunday strangled to death by suspected war veterans and ruling party militia as the effects of the five-year land occupation crisis linger on, farmers confi

rmed this week.

Commercial Farmers Union officials said Ole Sunde, a white commercial farmer, was abducted from his occupied Musonzowa Farm near Banket, 95 kilometers northwest of Harare, and driven into the bush where he was severely assaulted before he was strangled to death with a wire.

CFU president Doug Taylor-Freeme said Sunde, who had serious head injuries, was rushed to Banket district hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival.

The assailants reportedly broke into his house and got away with a DStv decoder.

Although it was not possible to obtain comment from Banket district medical officer, a Dr Ngalangala, a hospital official who spoke to the Zimbabwe Independent, confirmed on Wednesday that Sunde’s body was at the mortuary.

Sunde becomes the latest white farmer killed in a tense standoff between landowners and squatters backed by President Robert Mugabe’s ruling party. Twelve other farmers have been killed since farm occupations started in 2000.

Two of Sunde’s neighbours who went to his assistance after squatters confronted him on Sunday, were also abducted and their whereabouts remain unknown.

A third neighbour who declined to be identified for fear of victimisation, witnessed the fatal beating of Sunde. He was also beaten by Sunde’s assailants and was treated at Banket district hospital.

Chinhoyi provincial press liaison officer Assistant Inspector Nyathi declined to comment on the murder of Sunde, referring all questions to police general headquarters in Harare. Police spokesman Oliver Mandipaka could not immediately comment on the murder, saying he was out of town on business.

The killing is expected to severely deepen the crisis over illegal land occupations in Zimbabwe which began in 2000 amid reports that the group of war veterans has vowed to take over all white-owned farms in the Zvimba North constituency.

The murder of Sunde, of Norwegian descent, has forced more than 20 white farming families in the area to seek safety in Harare, a representative of the farmers’ union said.

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