HEAVILY armed soldiers and state security agents at the weekend reportedly raided an outdoor adventure camp in Ruwa on suspicion that it was a military training base for bandits intending to topple President Robert Mugabe.
Sources told the Zimbabwe Independent that a large team comprising police officers, Central Intelligence Organisation agents, Air Force of Zimbabwe personnel and military police descended on Kudu Creek camp in armoured vehicles with a helicopter hovering overhead.
â€œIt was a full-scale military exercise,â€ one observer noted.
The camp is known for training boy scouts and young Christian groups in adventure activities and personal development.
The team of security agents, the sources said, arrested the campsite owner John Naested and two white farmers â€” Angus Thompson and Brian Baxter â€” who live close by.
Naested reportedly served in the Rhodesian army.
A close friend of Naested told the Independent that it was strange that the security forces mistook the camp for a military training ground.
He said: â€œThe place is just a small holding that runs between Ruwa and Arcturus road. Naested runs the place like a leadership training course for high school students. School children from a number of schools come for camps in leadership training courses. Even local schools send their students for training. There are many outdoor activities. It is just an outward bound centre.â€
He said a large military contingent raided the Kudu Creek camp on Sunday.
â€œI am informed that Naested and the other two white farmers were picked up at 1am. I am not sure where they were taken to, but it is suspected that they were split up possibly between Borrowdale and Highlands police stations,â€ the friend said.
Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena yesterday said he was not informed of the raid.
â€œI am not aware of such an incident,â€ Bvudzijena said.
The government last year claimed that the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC was recruiting youths for military training in Botswana with the aim of ousting Mugabe from power.
More than 40 MDC and human rights activists have since been arrested in connection with the alleged planned banditry activities.
Zimbabwe Peace Project director Jestina Mukoko was abducted by state agents and spent 19 days in solitary confinement before being charged for allegedly recruiting bandits to oust the Zanu PF government.
BY WONGAI ZHANGAZHA