A BID by three war veterans and some villagers to invade an animal conservancy in Beitbridge was thwarted last week following the intervention of the police.
BY STAFF REPORTER
The former liberation war fighters, identified as Steven Mohade, Julius Siziba and Bigboy Ndlovu, were allegedly accompanied by eight villagers when they descended on Mananje Conservancy’s Scops Safari Camp on November 20.
Mohade allegedly ordered the only employee, who was at the camp at the time, Evelyn Ndlovu, to pack her belongings and leave the property as they had taken it over. The war veterans claimed that they had been given offer letters for the property by the government in 2004.
“There were safari clients, who had left early that morning to go fishing on Zhove Dam. The terrified Evelyn phoned (Ian) Ferguson, the managing director, to contact the clients and tell them what was happening so that they could come back and retrieve their belongings,” a conservancy employee said.
When the conservancy manager, Elliot Shoko arrived, he was instructed by Mohade to ensure that Mananje’s employees, who included game scouts and fence maintenance staff, vacated the property immediately and were only allowed to take their personal belongings.
Notwithstanding the ranting and raving by Mohade, Shoko told them no one would leave the property under any circumstances.
The two game scouts, who were accompanying Shoko, found that their living quarters had been broken into and their personal belongings removed, including a cellphone and $50. Company tools had also been removed.
“Shoko found all the stuff except the cellphone and $50 at the back of Mohade’s vehicle and returned them to the lodge.”
The invaders later moved up to a game scouts base near the Bulawayo-Beitbridge Highway, where they told the employees to vacate their rooms, as they intended to spend the night there, but they refused to budge.
The invaders spent the night in the open before moving back to the safari camp the next morning. When the invaders heard that the case had been reported to Beitbridge police they left the property in a huff.
Ferguson, who has endured several invasions of the property by the war veterans, commended the police for their swift reaction.
“It is worth mentioning that during the day, the invaders were phoning various people to inform them that our staff was refusing to vacate the property. It was clear there were some senior people behind the scenes planning the invasion,” he said.
Ferguson said the police officers were very professional compared to their colleagues, who have a habit of harassing the conservancy’s staff each time they report an invasion.