‘Outsiders’ besiege B/Bridge game farm

A BEITBRIDGE game farm, under siege since 2010 from invaders, has seen an upsurge in the number of new settlers from outside the district, which the owner blames on a government official.

BY STAFF REPORTER

Ian Ferguson says despite the courts declaring the invasion of Denlynian Game Ranch illegal, a Beitbridge lands officer identified as Mtulisa Moyo continued to parcel out plots. Ferguson said the reserve was not fit for human habitation or rearing of livestock
and the government declared it had no interest on the property.

However, the elderly farmer said this had not deterred Moyo from allocating plots while the police were reluctant to act.

“A Ministry of Lands officer Mtulisa Moyo in contempt of High Court orders has issued 55 offer letters for plots to mainly public servants including police, CIO (Central Intelligence Organisation operatives), and wealthy businessmen stationed or operating in Beitbridge but most from other provinces,” he said.

Ferguson said the land was being allocated in an ecologically fragile part of the farm. “All the plots are concentrated in at most a square kilometre on the Umzingwane River,” he said.

“The invaders have been served with High Court ejectment orders but refuse to leave the property as they have been told that only the
police can evict them.”

The invaders have been accused of poaching at the farm near the South Africa border. He said the numbers at the farm kept swelling every weekend.

“There are new invaders appearing every weekend arriving with employees and the first thing they do is cut down trees from the riverine
mopani forest and start building cattle kraals,” he said.

“They refuse to give our staff their names or produce an offer letter, but our staff recognised one of the invaders who is a public prosecutor in the Magistrates Court in Beitbridge but don’t known his name.”

The farm owner believes there is now between 400 to 500 head of cattle and a unknown number of goats all concentrated on the same square kilometre of the Umzingwane River indigenous forest.

He fears the forest will be destroyed in a very short time and turned into a ‘dustbowl’. Ferguson said a named Zanu PF politician recently
held a meeting in Masera and encouraged locals to graze their cattle on the game farm.

“The reason for this they said was because a large section of the land which government purchased “Section 4 (Shobi Block)” in the early
1980’s for a reserve grazing area had been allocated to one Erasmus Nare who was fencing it off,” he said.

“It has deprived the Masera cattle owners of large sections of grazing land. “This is the same man who is building a hotel on the game farm and owns a funeral parlour in Beitbridge and a large security company, Mafoko Security, in Johannesburg, South Africa.”

He said the villagers believe a top minister from Matabeleland South had an interest in the resort. Ferguson said the future of the game farm had been endangered by lack of livestock population control, rotational grazing systems and livestock watering points.

“Infact there is no management whatsoever and generally a free for all,” he said. “This is aggravated by the veterinary department issuing
movement permits for more cattle to be moved from other areas onto the game farm of which over 200 were trucked in always at night in a South African registered truck.”

He said the smuggled cattle included pedigree Brahman and Bondsmara heifers. “These must have come from South Africa as there are certainly no breeders of these animals in Beitbridge or the adjacent districts,” Ferguson said. “On enquiring the veterinary officers are evasive and a full investigation should be instituted.”

The game farm is in Region 6, semi-desert and is classified as not fit for human habitation. Ideally grazing has to be restricted to a nomadic system. “The property should not have by any stretch of the imagination been identified as suitable for resettlement in the first place,” Ferguson added.

“Having been a resident in the Beitbridge district for 62 years and having worked as an agricultural officer in the district for 10 of those years I know that there is a total disaster just waiting to happen as happened before and will happen again when thousands of cattle and wildlife will die of poverty.

“This was recognised by government when purchasing 50,000 hectares in the 1980’s which is virtually adjacent to the wildlife conservation
farm for “strictly reserve grazing only”.

Ferguson is on the verge of losing Benfer Estates, one of the top citrus plantations in Beitrbridge, and the chaos has been blamed on a top government official. Moyo was not reachable for comment yesterday.

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