While we fought the fire, some of the thugs were driving around on our own tractor with our water pumps and dowsers, but they didnt come near us. They were probably laughing at us.

They turned up that dark evening, as they would for many more to come, when supper was over. Screaming out, out, out and thumping drums, Mugabes mob lit a noose of 50 fires around the farmhouse.

In the flickering circle of flames, it was easy to see the AK-47 automatic rifles they waved above their angry faces.

Inside, the terrified white family repeated the words of Psalm 118: The Lord is with me, I will not be afraid.

There was no sleep for them. At any minute the mob outside might break in and beat and torture them, just as they had done to other Africans, black and white.

It was only hours later, when dawn broke over Mount Carmel farm in Chegutu, 70 miles south-west of Zimbabwes capital, Harare, that Ben Freeth and his wife, Laura, finally dared to unlock their doors.

That night of terror was just one chilling episode in their battle against the dictator Robert Mugabe, 85, and his henchmen.