Farmers want extortionist elements probed

Freeman Razemba Crime Reporter
SOME of the remaining commercial white farmers in Mashonaland East Province have appealed to the Government to investigate a syndicate masquerading as members of the Central Intelligence Organisation demanding “protection fees” from them.

The farmers alleged that some individuals from certain trade union were also extorting and harassing their workers.

On January 30, chairman of the Beatrice Farmers Association Mr Stoff Hawgood of Tavistock Farm wrote a letter to the National Employment Council’s board member Mr Crispen Vambe about the continued harassment of farmers in the area.

In October last year, police were investigating the same syndicate that was reportedly extorting money from the remaining white commercial farmers as “protection fees” in Mashonaland Central and Mashonaland West.

Those who declined to pay are allegedly threatened with eviction.

Members of the syndicate were said to be using names of senior zanu-pf officials and police officers to intimidate their victims.

Mr Hawgood of Beatrice has also threatened to take legal action against some police officers for allegedly being involved in the intimidation.

“Since 16th May 2015, Tavistock Estates (Pvt) Ltd as a company, me personally as the managing director, my management team and the workers of the company have been abused and harassed by both ZHAGAWU (Zimbabwe Horticulture Agro-Industries and General Agricultural Workers Union) represented by Raymond Sixpence, and since December 2015 by the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions represented by Mr Mautsi when Mr Sixpence passed the matter over to the ZFTU,” said Mr Hawgood.

He said he had written on several occasions complaining about the behaviour of Mr Sixpence and his illegal activities, not only at his farm but on others in Seke District.

“After wasting time and money in excess of $12 000 fighting a case, which should have been easily resolved through NEC for Agriculture, I am now appealing to you as the chairman and board member for NEC (Mr Vambe) to fully investigate this matter and take urgent remedial action,” Mr Hawgood said in his letter.

“I am also taking further legal action against both ZHAGAWU represented by Mr Sixpence, and ZFTU represented by Mr Mautsi.”

Mr Sixpence dismissed the claims, saying any farmer who was subjected to extortion should report the matter to the police.

“We are a registered and professional union,” he said.

“When we visit these farms we will be addressing the plight of our members.”

Last year, a report was made against Mr Sixpence, who was accused by Mr Hawgood of coming to his farm to intimidate his workers.

In a letter written to Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri and leaked to The Herald, Mr Hawgood — who is also the Chivhu District crime consultative committee chairperson — alleged that Mr Sixpence, who was once arrested for threatening him, extorted money from white farmers while posing as a CIO operative.

He is alleged to have demanded money from Canterbury Farm owner Mr Conal Lucas, Plumstead Farm owner Mr Steven Mumford, Tavistock Farm, Lynne Farm and Innesfree Farm.

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