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Invasion turns ugly

Augustine Mukaro/Eric Chiriga

THE invasion of Hippo Pools Wilderness Camp, reported in the Zimbabwe Independent two weeks ago, turned ugly last Friday with Zanu PF youths from Shamva abducting the camp owner

and an American citizen visiting the area.

Camp owner Ian Jarvis told the Independent this week that he was assaulted when he went to the camp to pay his workers after the invasion of the camp by Zanu PF youths on October 16.

He said he was abducted together with Ryan Kuja from Garura Eco-Tourism project near Hippo Pools. They were force-marched for a kilometre while the abductors beat up Jarvis.

“As they force-marched us for a kilometre, they severely beat me with sticks,” Jarvis said, showing bruises all over his body.

“In the process I lost $500 000 in cash for my staff wages, my suitcase and all its contents,” he said. “Kuja lost $100 000 in cash, his bag containing, among other things, car keys and a camera.”

Jarvis said he only got an opportunity to escape when money in his pocket fell out, thus diverting the attention of his attackers who stopped to pick it up.

“I ran some distance down the road and then into the bush. I was whacked out and spent some time among the rocks,” he said

Jarvis was later treated at the Harare Trauma Centre and has since reported the case to Avondale police.

Jarvis said police at Shamva were delaying investigations into the case and so far no progress has been made.

“The member-in-charge of Shamva police is dragging his feet about normalising the situation, especially recovering the keys and other equipment looted in the first invasion four weeks ago,” he said.

Contacted for comment, Shamva police confirmed the invasion of the camp saying one of the youths’ leaders from Madziwa Mine had taken the car keys and an officer was investigating the case. Police would not, however, give more details on the matter referring all questions to the provincial spokesman in Bindura.

Jarvis said police were reluctant to guarantee the safety of his clients visiting Hippo Pools.

“The police are still not willing to ensure that any clients going to Hippo Pools will be safe. Right now we are unable to take bookings due to the insecurity of the area. The camp cannot be reopened until the equipment is recovered and security guaranteed,” he said.

When Hippo Pools was first invaded last month, booked clients were forced to vacate the place in the middle of the night.

Zanu PF youths from Shamva area invaded the camp in the 74 000-hectare Umfurudzi National Park situated 150 kilometres north of Harare in the Mazowe-Shamva area.

Jarvis said the matter was reported to National Parks headquarters, the police and other relevant authorities but no arrests had been made so far.

He said clients who were forcibly evicted claimed to have left behind equipment worth over a million dollars. The invaders also looted food valued at $500 000.

Jarvis was forced to hand over all camp keys.

“The invasion has nothing to do with resettlement because we do not own any land but operate on National Parks estate,” he said.

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