Disgraced 'Chief' Chiadzwa begs for mercy

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Newman Chiadzwa, who became known world-wide after he gave damning evidence to the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, now faces jail.

Exposed as a fraud and illegal diamond dealer, Chiadzwa was now pleading for leniency as he awaits sentence.

Chiadzwa (54) came to prominence last year after he told a visiting delegation from the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme that there were mass graves at the Chiadzwa diamond fields

On Friday a provincial magistrate, Billiard Musakwa, convicted Chiadzwa who used to masquerade as “Chief Chiadzwa” until he was exposed as a fake, for the illegal possession of diamonds.

Chiadzwa was found guilty of being illegally in possession of 8,6kg diamonds worth about $300 million.

His lawyer Chris Ndlovu has since pleaded for leniency, saying his client was a first-time offender.

The convicted businessman is the owner of a general dealer shop in the Chiadzwa diamond mining area.

Ndlovu had earlier told the court that his client kept the diamonds, which were found in his possession, on behalf of his community. Chiadzwa also claimed that villagers used diamonds to buy goods from his shop.

He said the diamonds were extracted during the period when the government encouraged villagers to freely mine the precious stones and sell them to the Mineral Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ).

Ndlovu unsuccessfully tried to introduce newspaper cuttings as evidence to show that government officials had encouraged villagers to freely mine the gems.

Magistrate Musakwa refused to entertain Ndlovu on the matter. The defence lawyer said former provincial governor Tinaye Chigudu and former Deputy Minister of Mines Tainos Rusere held meetings with villagers in the diamond rich area. He said the government officials encouraged the villagers to mine the diamonds.

Ndlovu also asserted that the same officials told the villagers to sell the diamonds to the MMCZ, which had opened a depot in the diamond fields.

However, Nelson Makunyire, who is appearing for the State, disputed the claims saying the extraction of the gems was illegal.

Magistrate Musakwa was expected to sentence Chiadzwa tomorrow.