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Tuesday, 14 August, 2001, 11:23 GMT 12:23 UK
Fleeing Zimbabwe violence
A ransacked farm of a white farmer in Zimbabwe
The violence has spread through the Chinhoyi area
The chaotic land grab in Zimbabwe that has seen the occupation of hundreds of white-owned farms has reached new levels of violence in the north of the country.


I was very scared, I must admit... I kept thinking, what if they've got guns, what if they've got knives?

Natalie Da Silva
The violence has spread through the Chinhoyi area in one of the nation's most productive corn and tobacco districts, following the arrest last week of 21 white farmers who were accused of assaulting black squatters.

Ena Da Silva's farm was attacked on Saturday morning by a gang of old and young men, women and children.

"My daughter and myself and her friend, we hid in the bathroom cupboard behind a washing machine," she told the BBC.

"Eventually I got up, they took me out and they demanded [all my] keys," she said.

"When they discovered my daughter and her friend, they did hold a knife to them and threatened them and demanded money and removed their shoes."

Escape without possessions

Ms Da Silva and the two girls managed to escape when other farmers came to their rescue.


They drove off in their car without taking a single possession.

Ms Da Silva's daughter, 13-year-old Natalie, described the frightening affair:

"I was very scared, I must admit... I kept thinking, what if they've got guns, what if they've got knives, what if they threaten us?"

She told the BBC she wanted to leave Zimbabwe.

"I'm a bit edgy whenever we hear about what's happening on other farms. I just want to go down south and start over again," she said.

Hoping to return

Ms Da Silva said she intended to take her daughter to Johannesburg for a break from the stresses of the past few months.


I would like to know clearly, whether as a white person, we are welcome here or whether they would rather we leave

Ena Da Silva
But she said she hoped to be able bring her back to finish her schooling in Zimbabwe.

Like other farmers, Ms Da Silva finds it hard to believe that black Zimbabweans want white farmers to leave for good.

"I would like to know clearly, whether as a white person, we are welcome here or whether they would rather we leave," she said.

She suggested that safe passage be given to those who want to leave, and "safe residence" be promised to those who want to stay.

"There is going to be change. A lot of people realise that. And those who are really willing to stay, are really willing to work along with the change," she said.

See also:

14 Aug 01 | Cricket
England tour in doubt
12 Aug 01 | Africa
Zimbabwe land conflict escalates
10 Aug 01 | Africa
Farmers flee 'war vet' attacks
06 Aug 01 | Africa
Mbeki admits Zimbabwe failure
02 Aug 01 | Africa
Zimbabwe targets more white farms
09 Mar 01 | Africa
Violence haunts white farmers
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