Judegment Day At The High Court London

Judegment Day At The High Court London
Mengi v Hermitage: Libel Claim Successfully Defended

Sunday, 21 June 2009


press release:-

February 19, 2008 -


On the eve of President Bush’s visit to Tanzania, Zimbabwe style land invasions have begun in a country stated by President Kikwete to be an ‘investor friendly haven’.

British Investors Stewart Middleton and Sarah Hermitage have been brutally forced from their farm only eighty kilometres from where Mr. Bush is staying in Arusha. Speaking on the BBC South East network last night the investors stated they had left their farm in Moshi due to threats to their lives and those of their staff. They described the situation as involving the use and abuse of the police and the judiciary, which has now culminated in the arbitrary unlawful arrest, and imprisonment of their senior Tanzanian management team.

Ms. Hermitage states, “there is no one in authority in Tanzania protecting either ourselves or our staff and leaving the farm was the only option we had to protect our lives in response the constant death threats we were facing”. Despite assurances from the Director of Public Prosecutions to the British Government that he will resolve the abuse of law in respect of those imprisoned, the men remain incarcerated in Karanga prison Moshi and their appeal rendered impossible by the convicting magistrate Principle Magistrate Dudu’s refusal to produce the court ruling required for their appeal.

The British Government views the arrest of the men as a direct and unlawful attack on British investment in Tanzania. The Foreign Office issued a statement to the BBC last night acknowledging there was evidence of harassment and intimidation against the investors and their Tanzanian staff but stating it was hopeful that the situation could be resolved. Ms. Hermitage, admitted to the Supreme Court of England & Wales responded by stating, “ for the last three years Benjamin Mengi has been attempting to steal the lease to our farm. He is supported by a pervasively corrupt police force and judiciary and has resorted to Zimbabwe style violence and thuggary in particular, threats to murder us and behead our staff. The police refuse to accept and investigate any criminal charge against Mengi overtly supporting his criminal conduct.

Shame is being brought on Tanzania by the refusal of the Tanzanian government to apply the rule of law to our situation. Our farm has now been invaded which is tantamount to nationalisation. Armed local Militia and Massai cattle brought to the farm by Mengi under the authority of a court order obtained by abuse of law have, in the last two weeks alone destroyed $50,000 of export crops. An act supported and sanctioned by the police and local administrations. The abuses of court process have been brought to the attention of the Chief Justice but the situation remains unaddressed by any rule of law.”On the issue of resolution, Ms. Hermitage states, “President Kikwete has been aware of this situation for three years and his government has failed to act”. The Public Complaints and Corruption Bureau Chief Edward Hoseah produced a report on the issue in early 2007 at the request of former British Foreign Secretary Margaret Becket. The report revealed that the investors were the lawful owners of the lease. Commenting on President Bush’s visit to Tanzania Ms. Hermitage states, “ A complete state of anarchy exists in Moshi, which has created a legal vacuum in which thuggary, violence, and abuse of due process prevails with impunity. The levels of corruption we face are unimaginable.

The question has to be asked why; President Kikwete has allowed this situation to persist for three years without intervention. On the one hand, he is proclaiming good governance to the world and receiving copious amounts of aid on this basis and yet a brutal Zimbabwe style land invasion is taking place in the country together with human rights abuses that have been brought to his attention by the British Government repeatedly.

President Bush should be mindful of the fact that good governance requires certain mandatory imperatives primarily, the rule of law and a transparent and independent judiciary. He should therefore be well advised to look past the rhetoric of good governance trumpeted daily around the world by the Tanzanian government and acknowledge the reality of the prevailing situation in Tanzania.”

17th February 2008.

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