Rankin farm seizure

White Zimbabwean farming family are driven off their land to make way for black British doctor who runs slimming clinic in UK

The Daily Mail By Hugo Gye for MailOnline

Published: 1 February 2016

  • Phillip Rankin and his family have farmed in Zimbabwe for decades
  • Their farm has been taken from them and given to Sylvester Nyatsuro
  • Mr Rankin was handcuffed and dragged away from the property last week as police moved in to enforce the claim
  • New owner originally from Zimbabwe but now works as GP in Nottingham

A family of white Zimbabwean farmers have been evicted from their land after it was handed over to a British doctor who runs a weightloss clinic in Nottingham.

The Rankin family, who have farmed tobacco in Zimbabwe for decades, were handcuffed by police and dragged off their land so it could be claimed by Sylvester Nyatsuro.

Dr Nyatsuro, 45, is originally from the African country but has lived in Britain for at least 15 years, and is now in charge of his own GP practice.


Owners: British doctor Sylvester Nyatsuro and his wife Veronica have been given a farm belonging to a family of white farmers in Zimbabwe

He and his wife Veronica were allocated the Rankins' farm under Robert Mugabe's controversial land seizure laws which allow the state to take the property of white people and hand it over to 'indigenous' black Africans.

Phillip Rankin, 57, has lived at Kingston Deverill farm in the north of Zimbabwe for more than 30 years with his wife Anita and their three children.

The size of the tobacco farm has been progressively reduced since Mugabe's land grabs began in 2000, and last year he was told that he must leave the property for good.

Dr Nyatsuro apparently turned up at Kingston Deverill in September with a government document saying that he was now the rightful owner of the land.


Practice: Dr Nyatsuro runs The Willows Medical Centre in Nottingham, a medical and slimming clinic


Farm: The couple have been given a farm in the Centenary district of Zimbabwe owned by the Rankin family

The Rankins refused to leave without being compensated for their property, having recently planted a £300,000 tobacco crop, but two dozen settlers moved into an empty cottage nearby and a warrant was issued for Phillip's arrest.

In the early hours of Friday morning, 20 police officers dug under the fence surrounding the family's home and knocked on the door before carting away most of their belongings.

They then handcuffed Mr Rankin and took him to a police station before later releasing him to stay with relatives.

His son Barry, who has moved his family to the capital Harare, told the Daily Telegraph: 'I think we have finally accepted that we are not going back to the farm.

'I have also cleared out our house on the farm to avoid our things being broken up as happened when the police took my parents' furniture and their piano.'


Robert Mugabe's policy of 'land reform' has been running for 16 years, with 90 per cent of white farmers in Zimbabwe seeing their land taken and given to black people instead.

The government insists it is necessary to reduce the whites' economic dominance which dates back to the colonial era - but opponents claim it is a tyrannical and unfair process which bears little relation to justice.

The white farmers, many of whom have occupied the same plots for decades, were removed from their homes without compensation and often suffered violence from police during the evictions.

Around 20 farmers and their workers died during the first wave of seizures, which contributed to the country's economic collapse as Zimbabwe's skills base was hollowed out and the amount of crops produced tumbled.

The policy also led to allegations that Mugabe's cronies were more likely to be given land than genuinely needy citizens.

Phillip and Anita Rankin both have British ancestry but were born and brought up in Zimbabwe, employing more than 40 people at Kingston Deverill.

Dr Nyatsuro has been practising as a doctor in Nottingham for at least 15 years after moving to Britain from his home country, and he describes his nationality as British in official documents.

He runs a GP practice, The Willows Medical Centre, and is a specialist in helping patients lose weight.

The doctor lives with his wife, who is believed to be a relative of Mugabe's wife Grace, in a £700,000 home outside Nottingham.

Last year he launched the Zimbabwe Diaspora Skills Network, a charity which aims to use the expertise of Zimbabweans living abroad to boost healthcare and other services in the poverty-stricken state.

The couple have always denied using violence to enforce their claim to the Rankins' farm, saying that they were allocated the property by the state in accordance with normal legal procedures.

At the time that news of their claim to the farm came to light last year, Dr Nyatsuro's clinic was targeted by protesters accusing him of collaborating with the Mugabe regime.

Mrs Nyatsuro said that the couple were 'under siege' and claimed they had received death threats, insisting that none of the Rankins' allegations were true.

The Foreign Office has expressed concern over the seizure of the Rankins' farm and suggested that it 'did not follow the process as described by the constitution'.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3426266/White-Zimbabwean-farming-family-driven-land-make-way-black-British-doctor.html#ixzz3yusVSXGv