- Don Stewart, a commercial farmer was strangled and burnt to death last week during an attack on his farm homestead in Norton, outside Zimbabwe's capital Harare. Sources said Mr Stewart (68), was set on fire early in the morning last week while sleeping in his bedroom at his "tightly-guarded homestead". He was one of the last 300 white commercial farmers left in Zimbabwe.
Sources told 'The Standard' the assailants had failed to penetrate the barred windows and reinforced doors of his homestead on the dairy farm and gained entrance through the roof. The farmer, according to the same sources, was beaten and strangled by intruders before being burnt in a pile of petrol-soaked mattresses.
"The intruders took only a .303 rifle, which is very suspicious," said one of the sources, suggesting that the murder might be political. Officers from Dzivarasekwa police station outside Harare confirmed the reports but could not give more details.
John Worsley-Worswick, the chief executive of Justice for Agriculture Trust, a Zimbabwean pressure group, said: "We are appalled at the cold-blooded murder of yet another of Zimbabwe's few remaining productive commercial farmers."
At the height of the farm invasions, a group of squatters invaded the farm forcing the Stewarts to reduce their dairy herd from more than 200 to about 60, and also to scale down the amount of land under cultivation.
Mr Stewart was one of a handful of white commercial farmers left in a district that in 2000 was important for producing cattle, tobacco and food. Out of about 4,000 white farmers living in Zimbabwe at that time, only about 300 are believed to be still on their land.
An estimated 18 white commercial farmers have been murdered since 2000, when President Robert Mugabe gave the nod to violent farm invasions to drive whites from their land. The farm invasions were said to be a redistribution of productive land from white colonialists to Zimbabwe's landless poor, but are known to mainly have favoured President Mugabe's followers.
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