A family of white Zimbabwean farmers have been evicted from their land after it was handed over to a British doctor who runs a weight loss clinic in Nottingham.
The Rankin family, who have farmed tobacco in Zimbabwe for decades, were handcuffed by police and dragged off their land so it could be claimed by Sylvester Nyatsuro. Mailonline reports.
Dr Nyatsuro, 45, is originally from the African country but has lived in Britain for at least 15 years, and is now in charge of his own GP practice.
He and his wife Veronica were allocated the Rankins’ farm under Robert Mugabe’s controversial land seizure laws which allow the state to take the property of white people and hand it over to ‘indigenous’ black Africans.
Dr Nyatsuro, who is linked to the Mugabes, apparently turned up at Kingston Deverill in September with a government document saying that he was now the rightful owner of the land.
The Rankins refused to leave without being compensated for their property, having recently planted a £300,000 tobacco crop, but two dozen settlers moved into an empty cottage nearby and a warrant was issued for Phillip’s arrest.
In the early hours of Friday morning, 20 police officers dug under the fence surrounding the family’s home and knocked on the door before carting away most of their belongings.
They then handcuffed Mr Rankin and took him to a police station before later releasing him to stay with relatives.
His son Barry, speaking from his new home in the capital Harare, today described how the family thought they had ‘survived’ after they held onto their land in the initial wave of confiscations by the Mugabe regime.
The 33-year-old father of three hit out against the eviction, saying it ‘doesn’t make sense’ that a wealthy professional who lives in the West should be given property by the government. ‘As a family we are absolutely gutted,’ Mr Rankin told MailOnline.
‘We have been turfed off of our land and there’s nothing we can do about it. We are devastated. ‘It was our business – but more important than that, it was our home. We have never owned anything other than the farm and that’s gone in one weekend.
‘My parents have been working on the farm for 35 years. I grew up there. Those years have not all been hunky dory, we have had our ups and downs like any family, but we thought the farm would always be there.
‘We have had 16 years of land acquisition in Zimbabwe and we thought we’d survived – we didn’t see this coming. We thought we had ridden our way through it, we thought we would be alright.’ I don’t know what we are going to do. I can’t even think beyond tonight.’
Slamming the decision to give his land to Dr Nyatsuro, he added: ‘It doesn’t make sense to me, how a doctor who lives in the UK can come and take our land.
‘Land requisition was supposed to be for the landless, for the people who didn’t have anything. I thought it was for the people of Zimbawe with nothing, not for wealthy British doctors who do not live here.
‘But what do I know? I don’t know the law, I’m just a simple farmer. My parents have farmed tobacco over four decades, it is all we ever knew.
‘It is every family’s dream to pass on their property onto their children. My parents were going to give it to me, and I was going to pass it on to my children and their children after that.’