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01 Jan 2002 00:00
Crawford von Abo, the Free State farmer who was arrested in Zimbabwe recently for being on his farm there, is determined to return to that country next month to face criminal charges for allegedly contravening president Robert Mugabe’s land acquisition Act.
Von Abo, who returned with his wife, Bibi, to their Bothaville home this week, told Sapa in an interview he would definitely return to appear in court in Mwenzi on 18 September because he had “no other choice”.
He would claim the protection of his civil rights and his property rights.
“I cannot fight the Zimbabwean government because I am not a politician.
“The South African government must on my behalf see to it that my property rights are upheld there.
“As long as I am a South African citizen, they have that duty,”
Von Abo said.
He accused the South African High Commission in Zimbabwe of offering nothing of the assistance due to him when he and his farm manager Willem Klopper were arrested by heavily-armed militia.
Von Abo maintained that their arrest had been illegal and malevolent because Fauna and Flora, the two farms they were on, had earlier been taken off the so-called Section 8 list, which would have marked them for eviction.
Von Abo earlier gave notice of his objection against the legality of government’s planned acquisition of Fauna and Flora, which in terms of the law required the government to acquire a confirming court order. The government then did apply for such an order, but withdrew it on April 16 before going to court on the matter.
The government also offered to pay Von Abo’s legal cost, “probably because they realised that the particular application was irregular and deficient”, Von Abo said.
Fauna Ranch is practically the only of Von Abo’s extensive agricultural properties in Zimbabwe which has not been seized by war veterans yet.
Although there was, according to Von Abo, also no legal acquisition order for Flora Ranch, this piece of land had been taken over by approximately 400 families who had been living there for the past eight months.
Practically all game on Flora had been killed by them, he said.
Von Abo said he has lost millions of rand he invested in his agricultural enterprises in Zimbabwe over the past 50 years.
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