FARMER'S HORROR: 'We fought a terrorist war for 11 years'
BEFORE fleeing to Warwick, Oswald "Ossie" Pike watched in horror as 22 of his neighbours were brutally murdered at the hands of African "terrorists".
Under attack from militant rebels associated with African despot Robert Mugabe, Mr Pike was driven from his farm in former Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), where he and his wife Luitha raised two children and 1200 head of cattle.
But despite his determination to move on, Mr Pike watches in anguish as history repeats itself 37 years later.
Having suffered persecution himself, Mr Pike can sympathise all too well with the white South African farmers Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton wants to resettle under a controversial fast-tracked visa program.
As a beef farmer and miner on a property 80 miles out of Gwelo in Rhodesia, Mr Pike said he witnessed the murder of more than 20 neighbours before he fled to Australia with his family in 1981.
"There are many similarities between what we went through and what is happening to those South African farmers now," Mr Pike said.
Living in Rhodesia under threat from Zanu and Zapu terrorists determined to drive white people from the region, Mr Pike and his wife Luitha carried machine guns around their necks for security.
"We fought a terrorist war for 11 years. You never knew when you were going to get murdered or stabbed in the back," he said.
Many of the people murdered around him were white Rhodesian farmers like himself.
As racial tension in the country grew, African "terrorist" groups attempted to seize back land that was taken over during the British colonial era.
"It became evident that we were fighting a losing war so we emigrated and forfeited everything," Mr Pike said. But it wasn't only the white farmers who were persecuted.
With a tear in his eye, Mr Pike remembered the hundreds of African Matabele workers who were also brutally attacked and murdered after the war.
"They were good people and to see them get murdered and butchered like that is just terrible."
Coming to Australia with no more than $1000 in cash, Mr Pike and his family were determined to build a new life.
"I tried all sorts of things; selling insurance, renovating houses. I sold steel sheds one time.
"We couldn't get the dole when we came so I was lucky and got a job at the meatworks and Luitha got a job with Avon.
"When I got my first pay cheque, I had $8 left in the house."
But as a jack-of-all-trades, Mr Pike and his family began to turn their fortunes around.
"From there we have done pretty well. I even owned six houses at one point."
Mr Pike said if white South African farmers were resettled in Australia, they would also make valuable contributions to the country.
"They will be very good citizens, that is all I can say," he said.
"They're people of the land who know the land and they will work hard on the land.
"They just need the opportunity to get in and live somewhere peacefully."
"If they destroy the European farmer, you are going to have the same situation as we did," he said.
"You are going to have a country where all the knowledge of farming is lost and they can't feed people.
"Farming in Africa is hard and the farmers have learnt to overcome serious problems like drought."
But while some have slammed Mr Dutton's pledge to offer support to South Africa as a "civilised country" as racist, Mr Pike worries that political correctness is muddying the issue.
"All I want to do is help the people there in whatever way I can," he said.
"I think people can be unsympathetic simply because these guys are white."
But David Leech of the Southern Downs Refugee and Migrant Network said it was important not to forget other refugees around the world.
"We support a non-discriminatory refugee policy and would urge the government not to single out one group over others."