White Farmer In Court Over Mugabe Insult

Van Royen who runs Cynthia Mine and Asher Estate farm in Matobo district, Matebeleland South province was arrested on Friday after a top Zanu (PF) official in Bulawayo province, Joe Tshuma alleged that he had insulted Mugabe and him over the phone.

Appearing before Bulawayo Magistrate Victor Mpofu ,Van Royen was charged under Section 33 of the Criminal Law Act for insulting or undermining the president.

Allegations against the white commercial farmer are that on Wednesday he was phoned by Tshuma who is interested in his farm but the white farmer replied telling Tshuma “to go and hang together with Mugabe.”

Magistrate Mpofu granted him free bail and his case was postponed to 11 August.

Before Van Royen’s arrest on Friday, Tshuma who is said to be interested in the white farmer’s property and a group of Zanu (PF) youths had visited Asher Estates farm and Cynthia Mine last Monday and locked all gates and threatened his workers before barring him from entering.

The white commercial farmer’s lawyer Tawanda Mashayamombe said: “This is just political harassment, these guys are interested in my client’ properties.”

Van Royen’s arrest came at time when Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) last week said it was worried by the rate at which state security agencies are arresting citizens on charges of insulting Mugabe, whose cases the organisation is receiving every day.

Last month police arrested Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Jameson Timba for calling Mugabe ‘a liar’. A Chipinge man Gift Mafuka was jailed for 12  months for  last year for insulting Mugabe.