Tanzania: Villagers Take the Law in Their Own Hands and Invade Estates

Arusha — THERE are fears that the wave of irate villagers invading farm estates owned by foreigners in Meru District may impact the economy of both the Arusha City and the region as a whole.

“Arusha is the country’s diplomatic town, whatever transpires within its vicinity is taken seriously by international communities and the ongoing invasions of large scale farms in Meru may scare investors away,” the Regional Commissioner, Mr Magessa Mulongo said recently.

Hosting a number of international organisations, institutions and conferences, in addition to being one of Tanzania’s main tourist destinations the last thing Arusha wants is to see foreigners are protected.

The animosity in Meru against settlers who run large scale farms is escalating into dramatic scenarios. The invasions recently took on a sinister turn when villagers in an attempt to seize a large scale farm were caught up in a scuffle that left one person dead and several others injured.

Villagers from Poli and Seela Sing’isi in Meru district invaded Mito Miwili Farm owned by Pulses and Agro Commodities Company, armed guards fought the invaders off. Godlove Laeli, 24, suffered gunshot wounds and is admitted to the Mount Meru Regional Hospital.

Arusha’s Regional Police Commander (RPC) Thobias Andengenye confirmed the incident which happened on the night of April 28, adding that about 40 invaders armed with bows and arrows, bush knives, double-edged swords, spears and axes destroyed several items on the farm. The villagers set the farm house ablaze, destroyed four tractors and a large barn.

The invaders allegedly also looted whatever they could lay their hands on. Authorities as well as farm owners are still calculating the value of both the vandalised and stolen property. Mito Miwili farm invasion by villagers is the third in less than one month. In recent days Dolly Estate in Maji ya Chai saw its gate and part of an electric fence ripped apart by hordes of neighbouring villagers claiming that land belonged to them.

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