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Farmer Arrested in Zimbabwe Deaths

September 16, 2001

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) _ Police arrested a retired white farmer for suspected involvement in the deaths of two ruling party militants in eastern Zimbabwe, relatives said Sunday.

John Bibby, 70, was being held by police in Wedza, about 75 miles east of Harare, his son Peter said. The father has been accused of being an accessory to the deaths Saturday of two militants, an allegation he denies.

An unspecified number of farm workers were also arrested.

The two died during clashes with workers on the Bibby family tobacco, corn and cattle farm. Details of how the two died remains unclear.

No comment was immediately available from police.

Relatives said workers had reported a raid on the farm by militants Saturday. Several workers’ homes were reportedly torched, and some 35,000 bales of hay were also lit on fire.

John Bibby accompanied police to the workers’ village and was later arrested, his son said.

At least 22 white farmers have been arrested since early August on allegations of violence against militants and the squatters who occupy their land, with tacit government approval.

A deal was brokered Sept. 6 in Abuja, Nigeria by the British Commonwealth to restore order in farming districts and to open national political dialogue in Zimbabwe. However, political violence and land occupations have continued.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe promised to abide by the accord, but there were doubts that he could quickly rein in violence by the militants who have illegally occupied 1,700 white-owned farms since March 2000.

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