“We want to attract investors who will either invest in both agriculture and irrigation infrastructures or invest in irrigation infrastructures and become service providers to farmers,”
A year after purchasing the lease Mengi began negotiating with British investor Konrad Legg (Tudeley Estate) to sell him the same lease again. Mengi demanded its return falsely asserting that he had not been paid in full (although he signed a receipt for payment in full) and unilaterally declared the lease assignment void. When the investors refused Mengi threatened to drive the investors out of Tanzania by any means, “cut to pieces in a coffin, if necessary.” When they held their ground, he unleashed a campaign of violence, intimidation and harassment to drive them from the property which included:
Using state officials to prevent the registration of the lease to the farms;
Coordinating with the police to ensure that they ignore his criminal behavior, refuse to protect the investors and staff and, repeatedly arrest, imprison, detain and interrogate the investors and their key employees;
Using the judiciary, police, and prosecutors to institute, maintain, and prolong baseless civil suits and criminal prosecutions against the investors and their staff;
Four years of threats, intimidation, harassment, violence, and denial of justice took their toll and ultimately succeeded in driving thew investors from Tanzania. Mengi had invaded the farm using local armed Militia. The investors were unable to walk on the farm due to the presence of thugs armed with pistols and clubs. Four key management staff were in prison and the investors were facing a serious death threats and unlawful imprisonment. There was a complete absence of any law and order and the violence reached an unprecedented level. It was clear that the investors were completely unprotected and that we would be killed. The investors fled in 2008 to Kenya in the middle of the night with three suitcases, three dogs and a cat. The next day, Mengi broke into the investors house and stole the contents of their home.
In 2006 Mr. Ole Naiko sent a probe committee to Silverdale Farm and investigated the situation vis-a-vis the Tanzania Investment Centre. The TIC concluded that the lease to the farms was lawfully owned by the investors and that it was clear that Mengi had engaged in fraud in an attempt to steal the property.