War veterans and farm invasions.

War Veterans and farm invasions.

Now I have been putting off writing about this because it brings back so many unhappy feelings. But, perchance it is a story worth telling and reminding people about, in case they have forgotten or never even knew about it. It just goes to show the lengths people will go to, especially when controlled by an onerous dictator.


Now what this really involves is that our once beautiful country had been handed over to a person whose brutality knew no bounds. The great sadness about all this, is that it wasn’t done by people who may support this type of thing. Far from it. It was done by Western leaders who one would have supposed wouldn’t? It’s true all right, ‘that politics make strange bedfellows’.

He went by the name of Robert Gabriel Mugabe.

Now the long and short of all this, is that he had been promising his people and his former followers land for over nineteen years but somehow never got around to it, en masse. Those who he had given land to of course never did much with any of it, if anything at all apart from making it a conservationists nightmare. Such is life in Africa.

Moreover he had used untold brutality to ensure he became ‘President for eternity’, or some such tripe.

A funny thing happened, the people had become tired and sickened by him and so he lost a crucial referendum. This chilled him to the bone so action was required to remedy this. The action consisted of doing things the only way he knew. Which of course consisted of more bloodshed and mayhem.

So the great plan consisted of invading (mainly), white commercial farms, who were about the only successful people at the time. To do this he used his former veterans from the liberation (terrorist)war. The so called ‘freedom fighters’ (terrorists), depending of course which perspective you come from?

What was even more strange was that most of these people were about fifteen or sixteen years of age. Quite simply, this means, they hadn’t even been born when the war ended. Which also quite simply means, they were nothing more than a bunch of unruly, hired, thugs and no less dangerous.

These then were the type of people who invaded my farm.


Here come the war veterans


Fear, luck and some laughs

As always one thinks this is never going to happen to you, but, it does. We weren’t the first farm invaded in the country but we were one of the first in our area. Consequently, one had an idea, more or less, of what to expect.

As it turns out my wife, I, and the kids were returning from holiday in South Africa when my brother phoned her and told us that the war vets were on the farm and to be careful. What a lovely welcome home hey?

Anyway, talking to my indigenous farm manager he told me that they took them by surprise so the security gates were not locked and they could not hold them outside the security fence. It’s called playing for time. So they were in and mayhem proceeded by scaring all the labour overturning tobacco bales amongst a number of things and saying the farm was now closed. Any one even thinking about work would be killed on the spot. They were all armed with ‘machetes.’

Now I have all ready mentioned that the majority of them were just young thugs. However, their leadership consisted of a few old genuine ‘vets’. The big lad in charge of our invasion went under the name of ‘Don Carlos’. Frederick Forsythe’s famed international assassin from his book , ‘The Day of the Jackal’. Now I’ll put my life on it that he had never read the book, but, had obviously seen the film and been mightily impressed.

Anyway, our Don Carlos, had the most bloodshot eyes I have ever seen. Drunk or high on ‘dagga’ (marijuana, grass), whatever you call it where you live, sometimes both at the same time, more often than not. The first thing he did was force our cook ‘Willard’, named after the crisps, to unlock our house. Whereupon Don Carlos helped himself to all our booze, then cleaned out the fridge, deep freeze, and pantry, distributing the largess all the while like some conquering hero.

So, the wife, kids, and I returned to a house where there was no food, but, by some stroke of good luck everything else had been left untouched. However the invasion of one’s privacy like this is not an easy thing to put up with. Pointless calling the Police as well, as they can’t help, as it’s ‘political’?


The next day


Meeting the war vets.

Now my indigenous farm manager and I were in constant radio contact, so I arranged for him to come over the next morning early, and I would meet and talk to them.

What these people had done was stolen one of our seedbed fumigation tents and draped it over the branches of a tree outside the gate of our security fence. He duly arrived and the great moment came when I went out to meet them. Don Carlos and most of his other merry men had left to invade another farm and left about fifteen men to hold the fort so to speak. The leader being another genuine war vet fast approaching senility and always wearing a red cricket blazer. After all, class tells, innit?

Now this is when luck, or whatever you want to call it comes in. Whether this was because I was deaf or because they liked the idea of me having hired one of their own people as my manager, God alone knows. People in the end are after all just human. The long and short of this is that I got on quite well with them and when the talk was finished ‘red blazer’, handed me a note and I went back inside.

The note said,

We demand,

250Kgs. Mielie meal (ground maize and their staple diet).


24 cases Castle beer.

50 cartons Madison cigarettes


1 Pair high heel shoes size 5.

He obviously fancied one of the labourers women and was trying to butter her up. You see the onus was supposedly to put fear into the labour force. So they spent most of their time forcing the labour to listen to them until the early hours of the morning and singing revolutionary songs.


What to do?


I know not what.

The Commercial Farmers Union (hereinafter referred to as the CFU), were telling all farmers not to feed the invaders at any cost. No doubt because they felt that once they became hungry, then they would leave? Moreover they were busy negotiating with the Government saying that there were six million hectares of viable farming land lying fallow. Surely then, the best way of going about this was to settle people on this in an economically equitable way and they had the expertise and bank backing to oversee all this. And expert help to make it happen, but, they were banging their heads against a brick wall, where there was no reason or logic.

Now you have to understand that so far I was doing OK with these people but another personal friend of mine in another area had just been beaten to death with iron pipes in front of his wife and two young teenage daughters. His wife being a long standing childhood friend of mine whom I grew up with. Oh, they were dangerous all right and it would only take one spark to ignite these people.

Now I am not an overly religious man but I do like a good debate or argument. Subsequently, I have read the Bible three or four times in my life, page by page. For some reason prior to leaving for holiday I was doing this again, so it was sitting unopened on the stool next to my chair. And, I was holding that note, so I picked up the Bible and randomly opened it. The page that came up was along the lines of, ‘if your enemy is hungry, then feed him’. How could this be?

So I went back out and told them that I was going to feed them, but, only maize meal. I then did a head count and there were fifteen. So I emphasised that I was only going to feed them. If three hundred of them turned up the next day looking for a free meal it wasn’t going to happen. Just you fifteen only. If I do this I want the farm and workers to become functional again and work re-commence. It was a busy and crucial time of the year. They agreed, so it was back to all systems go.

Next, work resumes but now pegging begins.


Free Enterprise.


War Veterans at work.

So the farm is back at work and so are the ‘vet’, slapping their machetes into the palm of their hands and looking at you with a if looks could kill look, every time you drove past them. I was finding it tiresome. Then onto the nightly entertainment of haranguing the labour until the early hours of the morning.

But the word had spread. Free land available, get in now and make your fortune.

So people from the communal lands or anywhere were walking onto your property and pegging their piece. What this consisted of, was cutting a few branches of a tree and sticking it into the soil, with a bit of plastic or part of an old fertiliser bag tied around the top. Great way to sign post hey? Most of these consisted of about twenty square metres. It was sickening but hard not to laugh as well. I was always thinking to myself, ‘I wonder how they are going to make a living from that then’? I also wondered when the best pieces were gone, who was going to get the rock or even tree?

Meanwhile back on the ranch Don Carlos was popping in now and again creating havoc everywhere he went. Now my next door neighbour was one of Mugabe’s cabinet ministers and part of his special inner circle. Our two boundaries intertwined and his house was no more than 900 metres away from mine at this junction.

But the ‘Don’ was obviously not in the know and high as a kite as usual marched his merry men over there. The minister was at home so went out to see what the fuss was about. Don Carlos went berserk with rage when he saw he was a black and at one stage called this minister;

“A white man’s bitch.”

Said minister came over to talk with me shortly after this, still shivering with fear. After all he had spend all the war years and in total 18 years living in America. Obviously he had learnt nothing in all that time living in such a great country and came back to join Mugabe. He described Don Carlos to me as;

“Nothing but a reprehensible, moronic, little thug.”

I had to laugh, not that he ever did anything about trying to stop the land invasions or what was going on at my place, but, they never stepped on his place again. Come to think of it, maybe he had his eye on mine?

Now on leaving here Don Carlos went on to the other farm where my manager lived. In his semi-conscious state he realised that it wasn’t being pegged and gave my manager a hard time about this. Micah (manager) calmly replied that he wasn’t aware he had to peg it. Don Carlos went berserk again and told him to peg it, and Micah asked how large he should make the pegs, to which Don Carlos screeched:

“A thousand kilometres.”

Explaining this to me later Micah added an afterthought which again made me laugh:

“He’s f**king mad.”

Now Micah was a pastor in his congregation, but, he had been around me long enough to liven up his language somewhat. It was the most eloquent description of Don Carlos I ever heard.




Smart thinking?

Now obviously the ‘vets’ had been thinking or were just getting bored? But they had come up with a master plan and this was entrepreneurship of the highest order. Being, why not sell the pegged pieces? OK why not?

So what they did was they started selling all the pegged pieces and the going price was $250 each. Now there came a time when they had sold each of these pieces to approximately ten different people. So fighting began between the seller and the buyer, and the buyer and the buyer, times ten. Somewhere about this time all the ‘vets’ vanished. Their job was done? Thank heavens for little mercies?

Now I have lived a varied life believe you me and never, and I mean never, have I been so sickened. It was time to go. I wasn’t the owner of these farms, my brother was, and this time I KNEW, Mugabe was finally serious. Nobody believed me and even my own Mother said to me:

“Kevin you are ruining your own and your families life.”

Many people had not even been invaded at this time and all agreed with my Mum. I hasten to add my Mum and Dad’s place either although this was also now owned by my brother. So be it. I managed to get a job in Ireland, but, even then I KNEW, a lot would depend on how well my wife did.

So after coming back from Ireland I planted my brother’s crops for him and then I left with the family to follow later. And everybody hated me.

A couple of years later the ‘vets’ invaded the farm where my parents lived and by this time the atrocities had increased ten fold. So they kicked them off and took over their homestead, sleeping in their beds, taking all their possessions, the accumulation of a lifetimes love and memories. All the photos of their kids, all the school reports, need I go on, and left them with nothing. Sixty years of trials and love and laughter. Who the hell cares we are the vets? Aluta continua, pamberi ne Mugabe.

They killed my father as sure as if they had shot him in the head. It just broke his heart and one day he just sat down in his chair and died. The life had gone out of him.

I’m sorry I just can’t go on. Except to say that their are millions of people around the world who can see nothing wrong with any of this. Well you got what you asked for. Look around you, everywhere you look, people out of work and crying, but, those in government and their idiotic followers are still riding the gravy train. Sorry people you cannot have your gravy and eat it.



About spookmoor

I'm a 61 year old happily married man with three grown up children. I lost all my hearing as an eighteen year old whilst doing National Service and then had a Cochlear Ear Implant twenty years later. I love trying to explain these things to people and bits about my life. I never thought so at the time, but it was the best thing that ever happened to me. Thus one gets Random ramblings from a man who has seen a lot with a touch of humour underlying all.
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70 Responses to War veterans and farm invasions.

  1. The hukus are coming back to the coop…maybe, just maybe this time but then it will be time for another despot or maybe, just maybe a miracle.

  2. Stephen Geach says:

    Remember those days well. Was absolutely awful coming back from holiday and hearing your farm had been taken. I can remeber the braai at my house a couple of weeks later, when we started to discuss about leaving Zim and where would we go?

  3. jake bremner says:

    Spook, having left Zim in 1980, thankfully I did not witness this situation. Having farmed the land and know how successful the farms were, it is soul destroying what those thugs did. Why the Western world and press turned a blind eye I will never know. Remember the good times. We were lucky to be brought up in Africa.

  4. Alan Balson says:

    Hey Spook, The whole thing was very sad, even though I left so long ago, and do not regret it, a part of me was left behind. Go well old friend. Taggart C27 Gwebs

  5. meek says:

    You should also consider that thos land you proudly call home was taken away from its real owners (the blacks) in a way that these blacks do not like as much as you also do not like what was done to you by the vets ….to my own point of view these so called vets where taking back whats legally theirs ..though i do not support the brutalities

    • spookmoor says:

      It is most strange you say that because as far as I remember throughout History we left you where we found you and farmed around you? BTW these farms mentioned were bought with approval from your government in your time, go figure.

  6. A.J. WILSON says:


  7. James Byrom says:

    What you went through in Zim is coming to RSA, although those who still live there can’t see it, or if they can, they continue to deny it. I wish they would all read your eye-opening blog!

  8. roz edwards says:

    An interesting read Spook…. thanks for sharing, must have been a difficult time, and heartbreaking to leave….. but at least you got out at the right time, and started a new life for you and your family ………..

  9. My dear Spook, thank you for sharing this very sad, heartfelt and poignant tale of colonialist Africa. You and your family, of course have my most deepest sympathy and commiserations for what you all suffered. There is not a family that has not been touched by the brutal “repatriation” of the African nations in the south. It is difficult to remain positive and believe that things will change for the better (at least in our lifetimes). The thing that galls me further is the treatment of the colonialists by their “motherland” (England namely), but that is another story altogether. I am glad you managed to get a job in Ireland and that your family were extracted safely from the horrors that befell our once proud and beautiful nation and homeland. Thank you for sharing and may your heart be healed one day.

    • spookmoor says:

      That is a magic comment Simon and thank you so much. I do not think my heart will ever be healed as it once was so beautiful and home is where the heart is , but thank God for Ireland.

  10. Julie Mutch says:

    Thanks Spook. Personally my family were unscathed by the farm invasions but I have many farming friends who were forced to leave their farms. How the western world can sit back and allow what is happening in Zimbabwe to continue is unfathomable..

  11. George Azevedo says:

    A terrible heartfelt story written by a great story teller…my heart aches,tears roll down my cheeks,what else can I say my friend?
    Stay strong,you’re still alive,you made it!

  12. Tess says:

    Just re-read this…..still believe……the devil helps his own. Never told many people Spook… but when Northern Rhodesia went independent….my sister, age 3, was one of the first victims…. she was set a light by the domestic, that worked for my folks……she got a 5 shilling fine and was released. Then God stepped in and got the best doctors to help her….. I watched my sister burn at the tender age of 4 with my folks trying to kill the flames….. so I am one with you.

    • spookmoor says:

      That is so appalling and so brave of you to mention here Tess and thank you. So many of us have so many terrible things happen. Luckily or by God’s good grace we managed to avoid all this.

  13. Carina Rix says:

    Hey Spook, loved reading this. Would have loved more detail, I like detail, don’t get were people say its too long.

    Sorry you had to go through this, how very frightening amongst other things. Almost like a rape, I would say. Just awful.

    Being South African I’ve heard of these atrosities, just never from a real victim.

    Awesome reading and look forward to reading more.

    Blessings to you and your families and all other victims.

    So sorry.

  14. Margaret Ann Sheasy says:

    Despite all the atrocities to our farmers and folk, we did have the best life before all of it. My brother and his partner were attacked a few times on the farm they were renting. Brand new motors they had put on boreholes had wood piled up on to them and set alight. The same to tractors. When they were away one weekend the farm house was burnt down, I am just so grateful that they were not there when it took place. Leaving our country was a very difficult decision, we did it for our Children. So that they could have a more normal life.
    Many Rhodesian’s that we know had to work long past pension age to get a better pension, my husband stopped working at 72.
    No matter where we are in the world we are there for each other.

  15. John Morris says:

    Hey Spook my friend, my words cannot express the sadness you have. Bastards through and through.
    I am once again back in Germany but this time it has been easier for our family. After two very serious attacks I have turned my back on Africa and will never return as I know I will be killed next time around. I will remember the good times with family and friends but Germany is our new home again and we seem to begetting settled. My container of personal goods made it after being lost in Ireland for some unknown reason!
    Best wishes to you and your family.

    • spookmoor says:

      And the same to you John. Been back a couple of times and think my last time is going to be my last, just found it all so heartbreaking. Many thanks for the visit and lovely comment.

  16. Tess Bold says:

    The world looked on and did nothing…..they say God weeps when good men do nothing. Then again the devils helps his own…..:'(

  17. frankiekay says:

    I can only press *like* here I’m afraid – can’t think of what to write – looking back, its almost unbelievable and also how much things have changed since then.

  18. Ian Tinker says:

    Spook you beauty – what a great article and brings back so many memories .. mostly bad but then even during those dark days we still managed to find humour from the strangest things .. maybe we were just as mad as the infamous Don Carlos!!!

    • spookmoor says:

      Maybe, but, perish the thought and all. I think it was our ability to laugh which made us all so enduring and jolly fine fellows. Thank you for your visit and comment Ian.

  19. Jim Levenderis says:

    Spook, after reading your story I recalled all the farmer friends I have / had here in Zim. I knoow not of one single white farmer that was not affected in all this. Many were beaten almost sensless, a handful were killed and otjhers died as your dad did, of broken hearts.

    What I cannot bring myself to do is to go and live among the white trash that caused all this, largely the English. That forsaken Union Jack has done more harm than good all over the world and they continue to gloat over their achievements, not realising that a large percentage of their delinquent populace don’t even know where Zimbabwe is or for that matter where Rhodesia was.
    The legacy of the ignorant, pompous, treacherous and deceiving Englishman has now reached the world, but they ar too hard skinned or dumb to acknowledge.

    After all, it was them who taught concentration camps to the world during the Boer war by holding captive the Boers wives and children. It was in these camps that innocents died of dysentry, Cholera, starvation and other diseases. It was not Hitler who pioneered these, he just perfected them, thanks to the useless Englishman.
    In Rhodesia, they turned their backs on four generations of their own kith and kin, and sold them down the drain. For need of proof, I have relatives in England who opposed the whites existence in Rhodesia.
    What a legacy to have in your history, I don’t think.

    God bless Spook.

    • spookmoor says:

      The Irish think the same way and I have heard some horror stories of the things they did here. I guess in the end there is good and bad in all people? Delighted with your visit and comment Jim.

  20. Jan Stewart says:

    Thanks Spook, I remember the ‘foot marking’ farewell in Norton Club for you. Am concerned about Andrew Cockburn’s reply

  21. Maggi says:

    Spook I think all this started long before the invasion themselves. My dad ran a 12 000 acre cattle ranch next door to Ngezi National Park, years ago. As kids it became our own private game park with an abundance of sable, kudu, and various other antelope, hippo in the Ngezi river itself, and at night certain times of the year you could hear the leapards. It was idylic, despite catching tick bite fever. Then the bastards set it alight – those who worked there drove as many cattle as they could toward the river, not many were lost, but the grazing was gone. It broke him, and to this day I do not think he ever truly got over it .. He was offered a sum of money by some Americans, but the gvt stepped in saying they had 1st option. Negotiations followed, papers signed and it was to become part of Ngezi National Park itself. He was happy with this. About a year before we left for Australia we were sitting there talking, reminiscing, and we both wondered how things were going. The upshot I started to do some research, after all how difficult would it be to find out if all was good now that it was part of a National Park….. well well well. It is not part of Ngezi National Park, lies fallow, and belongs to some big shot. He did ask me and I could not bring myself to break his heart again, saying it is all ok. I wonder how many other farmers were lead up the garden path in this manner… Possibly when I hear all these stories how people lost everything I have come not to care what happens to Zimbabwe anymore. I truly cannot even cry when I get told things. Out here in Aus where I live, folk are truly apologetic, appauled, and the farmers themselves disgusted with what their gvt during the time had done.. I have met people in my life that I have either loved, polite with, disliked, but never have I felt such loathing/hatred as I do toward him … I word not easily used at all, but in this instance with a seconds hesitation. Thanks Spook.

  22. Simon Shee says:

    Spook, thank you for recording the story of the takeover of your farm. It must have been really hard to relive those bleak days. Hopefully it was cathartic for you to write it. It is really important that people like you record your story for future generations. Lest we forget.

    • spookmoor says:

      Actually it broke my heart but thank you Simon for your warm sentiments. I always enjoy what you have to say. Whatever happened to common sense?

  23. Well written Spook. I visit my farm when back in country,bought off a liberating hero , a Mr Chitonga (CIO) in 1996 after getting Gov agreement. Nothing has happened for years , almost virgin soil except for some Bonsai mealies. Now however financed by American tobacco companies and looked after by white Zimbos’ the new farmers seem to be doing ok on my place.
    Grates a bit to say the least.

  24. mark longhurst says:

    well done Spook, history seen through misty eyes my friend ,well done, I’ve sent this to heaps of my ozzy mates and they are in awe! even though you tell it as if it was a daily trip to the supermarket-congratulations, keep it up.

  25. John kinnaird says:

    Hi Spook, I am still here in Kadoma and nobody has done any serious farming for years. It boggles my mind the Mina Funa attitude that has taken hold of the peasant farmers in Zim. They will not farm unless the Govt gives them the inputs they will just wait and starve until the Brits or Yanks come down & feed them. Diabolical

  26. I don’t believe that those responsible – US, UK, – are challenged enough, and that is why they can turn a blind eye. I have just come back from the Kariba area, and can honestly say that the povo have turned 180 degrees, realizing what the farm invasions and indigenization have done. The rumour is that a very small country in the Middle east rigged the elections for the despot to win in order not to lose face. The over-riding question I was asked by all when I was ther was “when are you coming home”. Doesn’t help you and other farmers, but the tide is turning. I am so sorry for everyone’s loss. My grandparents in Mocambique and of course, our family in Rhodesia. No accounting for the absolute lack of thought process

    • spookmoor says:

      Thank you Nikki and yes I have just come back from a holiday in Zim. All my brothers house servants spoilt me rotten and kept on saying come back. When I replied with but you didn’t want me here, they all said but that is forgotten now?

  27. Dave Spark says:

    Support I can give – and we need to raise the bar time and again, in the so called civilised West ! It is remarkable how they merely walk away”shirking responsiility” for the bloody mess they have left !

  28. bloganoceros says:

    Nice one Spook. Hard to write some of this stuff down hey?

  29. Fiona Docker says:

    Before I met you guys, Nev (RIP) Jake Robbie, Dave Younghusband, Rod Ackhurst I knew nothing about The War…but I believe you need to live a situation to truly understand it…and to some extent I do …..having lived in Zim. ( It was Zim by the time I got there) for a year. It is shocking the Western world turned a blindeye….and still continues to do so. We see the daily count of the dead in Syria…its all the talk – will we or wont we go help them. ..but nothing of the thousands who have perished (his own country men) under Mugabes dictator ship over the past 30 years.
    Aren’t we strange creatures?

  30. melody mcdonald theobald says:

    Spook, I did read this before someone deleted all your stuff and I still think it is so well written, as always!!

  31. spookmoor says:

    That is a good point bulldog and never thought of that? Once again somebody has just got hold of me and saying that I’m wasting my time with all of this and will never make 10 cents? More encouragement all the time and I sometimes wonder what makes people tick these days?

  32. bulldog says:

    I do remember this one.. and my blood still boils…

    • spookmoor says:

      So does mine but the funny thing is, so many people here tend to agree with the war vets. Beats me it really does but then again they had hundreds of years with the British treating them as underdogs.Not all of course but plenty do.

      • bulldog says:

        I found that when I blogged on the memorial to those that lost their lives in the Viscount disasters, there were so many that had actually never heard of it… I’m not sure that all the atrocities are getting through to the world… press coverage seems to be very quiet on things they don’t want to accept…, the ostrich syndrome I think,…

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