British doctor involved in Zimbabwean farm grab

A British doctor and his wife have joined the relentless onslaught by ruling party officials on Zimbabwe’s few remaining white commercial farmers and are currently involved in the invasion of a tobacco farm north-east of Harare.

For the past month, Dr Sylvester Nyatsuro (45) and his wife, Veronica, have been trying to drive a highly experienced commercial farmer, Phillip Rankin (57) and his wife, Anita, off Kingston Deverill farm in the Centenary district of Mashonaland Central province.

Rankin bought the farm in 1983, three years after independence, with the consent of the Mugabe government. Originally he produced high quality irrigated tobacco as well as the country’s staple food crop, maize (corn) and passion fruit. He also farmed cattle and pigs, but the farm has been severely depleted by continual seizures.

Nyatsuro, who was born in Zimbabwe but is believed to have emigrated around 2003, is now a British passport holder.  He owns “The Willows” weight loss clinic in Nottingham, England.

During September, the Nyatsuros arrived at Rankin’s farm with ruling party thugs, police and government officials, and presented a letter which they said authorised them to take over the farm.

Although Nyatsuro was not personally aggressive, the group was very threatening, warning Rankin that his farm and his equipment would be taken, and he would be left with nothing.

On October 12, pressure mounted against Rankin and his wife, who were locked into their house by aggressive invaders.

Rankin is involved in giving evidence against the ruling party Governor of Mashonaland Central province, Advocate Martin Dinha, for extorting large amounts of money from desperate white farmers so that they would be allowed to continue farming.

Under current Zimbabwean law, if a white farmer refuses to hand over his farm, he can face criminal prosecution and up to two years in prison for continuing to remain on “state” land.  Paying a bribe is very often the only other option.

Dinha was involved in the defence team for the Zimbabwe Government in the Campbell Case in the SADC Tribunal, which ruled in November 2008 that the government violated the SADC Treaty by denying access to the courts and engaging in racial discrimination against white farmers.

Rankin managed to get a High Court order barring the British doctor and his “rent a crowd” from the property. It was served on them on the evening of October 12 by the messenger of the court.

Rankin and his wife then spent the night bravely at home, but were deprived of sleep by the rabble-rousing crowd. The following day, October 13, again in defiance of the High Court, Mrs Nyatsuro came with a bus of reinforcements for the invaders.

“Such lawless behaviour happens all the time in Zimbabwe,” said Ben Freeth, spokesperson for SADC Tribunal Rights Watch.  “Police simply refuse to uphold High Court orders when their political masters tell them not to.”

“For 15 years, we have been battling with racist attacks on white-owned commercial farms, and from time to time, white-owned businesses – it is a culture of complete impunity,” he added.

On October 8, it was reported that the UK and the US have pledged US$43 million for food relief for Zimbabwe in a bid to rescue at least 650,000 hunger victims. Since 2002, USAID has provided more than US$1 billion in humanitarian assistance to Zimbabwe.

USAID mission director, Stephanie Funk, said that humanitarian assistance alone was not enough and that the root cause of the poverty and hunger needed to be addressed.

Freeth believes that the diplomatic community, which has provided such vast and generous amounts of food aid since the beginning of the farm invasions 15 years ago, needs to visit invaded farms and witness first-hand the lawlessness which is the root cause of the hunger and poverty.

“They haven’t been to a farm which is experiencing a lawless takeover for at least seven years – and yet it’s been happening all the time,” said Freeth.

“The international community needs to initiate an investigation under the International Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. They can’t just watch this abuse from a distance and do nothing about it,” he concluded.


  • comment-avatar

    It matters not how educated they are or what they have got, they are still thieves and thugs regardless.Dr Sylvester Nyatsuro and Veronica you aught to be ashamed of yourselves but unfortunately you do not have the common decency or human ability to be. We will be in touch with your patients Mr.

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    The Mind Boggles 7 years ago

    Yes good Dr Nyatsuro be patient (excuse the pun) they have kindly given us the name of your little weight loss program and it’s whereabouts!!!!!
    Sweet revenge oh so sweet revenge

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    Does anyone know more about this fellow? If they do, please put it here and I will do all I can to alert the British press.

    The bugger who shot Cecil the lionh (in good faith it seems) was mercilessly hounded. Now we have a real scumbag I would l,ove to help expose him

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      Kariba 7 years ago

      This story was in the Times newspaper in the UK 2 days ago but without the bit about Mr Rankin being a witness in a prosecution in Zimbabwe. Unfortunately there is very little interest in the UK about what goes on in Zimbabwe even among those who have any idea where it is on the map.

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      Zuwarabud Nyamhute 7 years ago

      The address of the slimming clinic (or is it slimeying) officiated by this Robbing Raiding Rabbit is:
      Church Street,
      The phone number is 01159404292

      And just think of the sickening hypocrisy and perfidy of this ZANU PF leech: He goads party thugs to drive productive farmers off their land, and the economy plunges into chaos. He hops onto the plane and heads – not to the East, as pouted by his master, but to Tony Blair’s Britain, the cradle of all the evils that have befallen Zimbabwe. He gets rich, comes back home and buys his own posse of shameless thugs and corrupt apparatchiks. Can a human being sink any lower than this?

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    It is all over the internet Dr Sylvester Nyatsuro…Sleep well moron.

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    Mugarbage 7 years ago

    What did we expect from an economic immigrant?
    A baboon with a PHD is still only a baboon.

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    Mupurisa 7 years ago

    Completely and utterly outrageous, disgusting and abhorrent act from a man who is no less than a doctor!!! I suppose racism is OK in Zimbabwe, and other places if the victim happens to be a white Zimbabwean ‘ay!! Now this is something worth causing a stir about, as opposed to a ‘famous’ lion that was shot in the dark by mistake!
    There is nothing accidental about this doctor’s actions, or his accomplices/associates on the ground in Zimbabwe!!

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    Planter 7 years ago

    Yes Dr Nyatsuro we know where – and we are coming there in Nottingham with our busload of thugs and we are going to repay you – how stupid and insensitive I am with every other comment here …………

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    Tinomunamataishe 7 years ago

    This guy is totally deluded and has no morals.

    He is a medical doctor and he is not a farmer. Why does he have to bent so low?

    Looking at his website he seems to have something descent going on so why try and grab a productive farm? You would have thought by living in the UK for a dozen years he would have been better informed but greed has got the better of him.

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    Observer 7 years ago

    Tinomunamataishe. If only he was bending so low to sow (seeds)

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    The Mind Boggles 7 years ago

    This whole thing has gone seriously viral, if he wants the farm let him have it and Mr Rankin can take his practise in Nottingham, anything less will be a betrayal to all mankind, Mr Nyatsuro I have your name in my sights you horrible evil thieving ignorant disgusting replica of a man.

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    Ruth Bonikki 7 years ago

    This man’s British citizenship should be revoked and I will be writing to my MP to complain. If the UK behaved in the same way as the Zimbabwean Government, then the British should invade this man’s house to take it back and his business as he is not the original owner of either, so should be kicked out.

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    Kevin 7 years ago

    The farmer should bring an action in the US using the Aliens Torts laws a judgement in his favour can be used to attack the doctors assets in the UK. If successful it will simply have effect of the farmer having sold his farm to the good doctor for sterling in the UK plus legal costs. As with most doctors he is financially illiterate like my late father who practised medicine in Bulawayo for 43 years. The difference was that my father never stole from anyone. After his death a patient of his who had owed him money for some years came to make a payment and I had to tell him that he couldn’t pay as the doctor had died and his reply was ” the black people have lost friend because you could see this doctor even if you didn’t have money”.

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      Atkinson 7 years ago

      My mother was also a doctor in Bulawayo; she had to leave the country with nothing. The nurses she worked with begged her not to leave, but when the government doesn’t pay your wages …..

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    I know that political correctness is a dirty word these days but maybe you could have said “..A moron with a PhD ….”?
    The other similie leaves a very bad taste in the mouth.

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    The Mind Boggles 7 years ago

    @Ngoto Zimbwa yes you are correct, unfortunately emotions run high and people tend to react without thinking (myself included) it’s no excuse but I’m sure @mugarbage will realise the insensitivity of such a similie, it does nobody any good just creates more unnecessary tension.

    “a moron with a PHD is still a moron”

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    It is indeed a time for cool heads, my brother, if we are ever going to tople from power these babs (oops!), morons who have our country in a strangle hold.

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    The Mind Boggles 7 years ago

    @ Ngoto Zimbwa love your sense of humour ha ha ha ha ha ha, these troubled times require a laugh