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  1. ITV Report

White Zimbabwean farmers evicted from land following claim by British doctor

A Zimbabwean couple who have worked their farm for more than 30 years have been evicted from their land - following a claim by a British doctor who lives thousands of miles away.

Phil and Anita Rankin told ITV News the GP has "totally destroyed" their lives after they were forcibly removed by Zimbabwean police.

Sylvester Nyatsuro, who runs a clinic in Nottingham, was awarded the land after laying claim to it.

Dr Sylvester Nyatsuro, pictures with his wife Veronica, has been handed farmland in Zimbabwe after a family were evicted by state police Credit: ITV News

Seizure of land from white farmers has been going on for more than 15 years in the country, as part of president Robert Mugabe's redistribution plans.

90%
of white farmers have lost lands and livelihoods to redistribution in Zimbabwe

The husband and wife tobacco farmers told ITV News they have "lost everything".

Phil and Anita Rankin have been evicted from the farm they have worked on for more than 30 years Credit: ITV News

Does he know that he has destroyed our lives?

He has taken my job, my farm, my home, removed my family from it. He has totally destroyed our lives.

– Phil Rankin, tobacco farmer

"I cannot believe that a human being can be so cruel," Anita Rankin added.

Armed police removed the Rankins from their land in handcuffs Credit: ITV News

Dr Nyatsuro's lawyers say he has done nothing wrong and the land belongs to the Zimbabwean state.

The doctor, who also runs a slimming clinic in Nottingham, fled Zimbabwe for the UK after turmoil around the first farm seizures.

The Rankins' farm workers are now unemployed and the land is being left unworked Credit: ITV News

While the seizures have been going on for many years, this is thought to be the first time the main beneficiary is British.

Dr Nyatsuro says he is not aware of any connection with president Mugabe - who often rewards his friends and supporters with land seized from white farmers.