William Rogers and his wife, Annette, were threatened by three Robert Mugabe supporters, who told them: “We are like hungry lions.”
Dozens of Zimbabwe’s last white farmers have suffered similar ordeals since Mr Mugabe lost the presidential election’s first round in March. Scores of black opposition supporters have been murdered and thousands beaten, abducted or tortured.
After defying the two-minute warning to leave, Mr and Mrs Rogers took refuge in their home on Chigwell farm. A gang of a dozen men soon gathered outside.
“They started smashing windows and the front door was smashed open,” said Mr Rogers. One of the men produced a gun and opened fire. “He fired a shot directly at us which went just over my head and close to my wife’s head,” said Mr Rogers. “He obviously intended to kill us.”
The couple retreated upstairs and listened, terrified, as the gang began heaping together a fire in their living room, using the wreckage of their back door.
“We thought we would be burnt alive, which is when I said that we would come out,” said Mr Rogers. He grabbed a shotgun and led his wife downstairs. The ringleader ordered him to hand over his weapon. Men seized Mrs Rogers and grabbed her by the throat.
Then the mob set upon both the farmer and his wife with sticks and pipes. “They dragged my wife outside and they were trying to strangle her,” said Mr Rogers. “She managed to bite the hand of the man who was grabbing her round the throat.
“He started to beat her. At one time, there were at least four men beating and kicking her.”
Bruised and bleeding, the couple were tied up and hurled into the back of a pickup. Finally, at least five hours after the first calls for help, the local police responded. Four armed officers freed Mr and Mrs Rogers, who were taken to Harare, the capital, for emergency treatment. They are now recovering.