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Monday, July 27, 2009

Neighbors Call Police On Black Farmer

Neighbours call police on black farmer

A farmer has had police call at his field three times in less than a week following reports from neighbours who thought he was stealing crops.

Zimbabwean David Mwanaka, who rents a field off Mountsorrel Lane, in Rothley, believes neighbours have reported him to police because they are "not used to seeing a black man working in the fields".

The 42-year-old, thought to be one of only two black farmers in Britain, was questioned by police officers for over 30 minutes on Saturday following a call reporting a suspected theft.

Officers questioned Mr Mwanaka before checking him and his van.

After another farmer stepped in to confirm his identity, they apologised and left.
However, Mr Mwanaka, who has been renting the field to grow maize for five years, was amazed when they returned on Monday, and then again on Wednesday.

He had not previously had a visit from police.

He said: "I was just picking the maize when I went to the edge of the field and saw three or four police cars and some officers walking towards me.

"They asked me what I was doing and I told them I was cropping my maize.

"It happened on Saturday, then on Monday, then again Wednesday. It was the same story – 'Who owns the land? What are you doing here?'.

"I had to explain again that I rent the land. They did the police checks again – it was the same process – and then they left. They were very nice and it was not a problem."

Mr Mwanaka, who travels from his home in Basildon, Essex, to tend to his crops four or five days a week, believes there will be more police visits to come.

He has lived in Britain since 1991, when he decided to start farming white maize, which he grew up eating in his home country.

Despite being told it would be difficult to produce in the English climate, Mr Mwanaka successfully grows the crop, plus pumpkins and sweet potatoes, across the country.

He won a contract to supply white sweetcorn to Sainsbury's stores in London last year.

The-father-of-three, who was working with his wife Brenda and a colleague when the police first turned up, said he did not believe the reports had been made maliciously.

He said: "I told the police if it happened again they should know it's me by now and not bother, but I'm just waiting for it to happen.

"Maybe it's because people have never seen a black man.

"I honestly don't blame anyone. They are probably just not used to seeing black people working in the fields here.

"They probably just assume I'm stealing, but they are wrong.

"It is a bit annoying because it's a waste of my time and their time.

"I've lived in this country for years and I've not had anything like this before.

"It is just ignorance. The police should realise, but they have all been nice to me."

A spokesman for Leicestershire police said it had to respond to every call made.

He said: "Police were called to land off Mountsorrel Lane, in Rothley, at 9.47am on Saturday, September 13 after a report of a suspected theft.

"Two further calls regarding suspicious activity on the land were received at 8.32am on Monday, September 15 and 8.30am on Wednesday.

"On all occasions, officers attended the scene and, after initial investigations, they were satisfied there were no suspicious circumstances."

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