A WHITE farmer was shot dead by President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF activists a day after the Zimbabwean leader vowed to push forward his land seizure plans with greater speed.
Terry Ford's final hours were spent trying to protect his property single-handed from a mob of 20 so-called war veterans, who beat him before killing him with a single bullet through the head.
Police ignored repeated telephone calls for help with the officer on duty telling Mr Ford that he could not come out to Gowrie Farm at Norton, 50km south of Harare, because his driver was fast asleep and must not be woken.
The police eventually arrived, more than six hours after Mr Ford's body was found by his cook, slumped beneath a tree.
"Terry was one of the most kind-hearted people in the world and all he wanted to do was farm," his fiancee Naomi Raaff said. "What has this achieved, other than the loss of a much-loved, innocent man?"
Mr Ford, 53, was stopped from farming for the past two years after the Government served notice that it intended to forcibly seize his land and property. He moved to Harare with Ms Raaff, 43, and worked as a school estate manager, hoping that last week's presidential election would finally see Mr Mugabe's curse lifted. But — amid widespread evidence of vote-rigging — Mr Mugabe was pronounced the winner.
Fearing a new wave of terror against Zimbabwe's white farming community, Mr Ford went to check on his property on Sunday and stayed there alone.
On Sunday night, he called neighbours to report that his homestead was being invaded and ransacked.
"He ran out and fired a shot over their heads and chased them out," said friend Ben Freeth, a fellow farmer. "He tried to drive his way through the security fence, but he obviously didn't get through."
Mr Ford's neighbours believe that, in his panic, he slipped as he attempted to jump over the fence.
"He was then grabbed, dragged around a bit and put up against a tree, where he was shot through the head," Mr Freeth said.
Mr Ford, a fourth-generation Zimbabwean, had spent all his life on the farm and grew up with many of the black workers who helped to run it.
Ms Raaff now plans to seek sanctuary in Britain.
Zimbabwe's white farming community fears the murder at Gowrie Farm is only the start of a huge post-election backlash by Mr Mugabe's supporters, who believe that the President's election victory is a signal that the land is now theirs to take.
Police said they had arrested four men yesterday in connection with the murder, but it was not clear if they were farm invaders or war veterans.