- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 18, 2002

HARARE, Zimbabwe Zimbabwean police hunted white farmers across the country yesterday, arresting, and in once case torturing, more than 100 of them as President Robert Mugabe relentlessly, defying international outrage, pursued his land seizure and redistribution program.
According to action group Justice for Agriculture, the total number of those arrested grew to at least 130 after Mr. Mugabe's government began a crackdown Friday on whites defying an Aug. 10 deadline to quit their farms. At least 92 were in custody, but the others have been released on bail.
Most were charged with obstructing the land redistribution act, an offense that can carry a two-year jail sentence.
Police stations across the country have been ordered to round up all farmers defying the deadline. Fewer than 500 of the 2,900 farmers served with eviction orders are believed to have left their land. The government has vowed there will be no let-up in the arrests.
Widening their net, the police also targeted farmers not legally required to quit their land.
Among them was Tony Smith, who left his farm a year ago because of persistent threats to his family's lives by militant youths from Mr. Mugabe's ruling party who describe themselves as "war veterans."
The veterans, most of them too young to have fought in the 1970s war against minority rule, have occupied the majority of Zimbabwe's 4,500 white-owned farms since the land crisis began in February 2000.
Mr. Smith's wife, Jolene, said police and veterans tortured their farm workers until they told them where Mr. Smith lived in the capital, Harare.
"Seven of them came to the house with guns at about three in the morning," she told The Washington Times. "[Mr. Smith] went through to the kitchen with them. They handcuffed him and beat him up and then dragged him to the car."
A doctor who was allowed to perform a perfunctory examination on Mr. Smith in prison said he had a broken leg and had suffered serious injuries to his head, back and arms.
Many other farmers legally on their land were also arrested and detained, and police swoops continued late into last night. Many farmers have gone into hiding.
Among those arrested was Chris Jarred, who suffers from severe blood pressure. Doctors warned that if he did not take his daily pills, he could die. So far, he has been denied the medication, medical attention and food.
Others arrested included Robin Greaves, a 65-year-old invalid who is 95 percent blind, and David Olds, whose mother and brother were both killed by the veterans.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard yesterday called for Zimbabwe to be expelled from the British Commonwealth, and there was condemnation from other Western nations.
Mr. Mugabe says his reforms are meant to correct land-distribution iniquities of the colonial era, although many farms have been allocated to his friends and political allies and 80 percent of white-owned farms were bought from his government after independence from Britain in 1980.

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