Diamond smuggling

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A closely knit syndicate involving security agents and workers from two diamond mining companies operating in Chiadzwa is smuggling diamonds on a large scale despite government claims the area is tightly secure.

Police national spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena yesterday said police had arrested two people recently who had been caught with diamonds allegedly obtained from workers from diamond mining companies in Chiadzwa.

He could neither confirm nor deny the existence of a diamond syndicate involving workers, security agents and dealers.

“ We can’t speculate. What we have on record is that we have arrested two people and indications are that they (diamonds) could have been smuggled from Chiadzwa,” said Bvudzijena.

Wealthy foreign buyers and daring dealers are said to be part of the syndicate smuggling gems out of Chiadzwa.

Sources revealed that workers from companies extracting diamonds from Chiadzwa were smuggling the stones out with the assistance of security agents protecting the fields.

The government has awarded rights to two companies, Canadile Mining and Mbada Diamonds to mine the precious stones from Chiadzwa.

Revelations that diamonds were being smuggled also come amid reports that soldiers and the police recently launched raids into villages and busy shopping centres in Nyanyadzi and Hot Springs to rid the area of illegal dealers.

Up to 50 people were reportedly injured during the raid which was conducted last Thursday.

“People are limping in the villages after they were beaten up during the operation carried out by soldiers and the support unit,” said a human right activist based in Mutare.

Daring dealers gather on the fringes of the diamond fields waiting to be supplied with the diamonds by workers of companies operating in Chiadzwa.

The dealers, in-turn, sells the stones to wealthy foreign buyers from countries such as Israel, Iraq, United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Mauritania, Belgium and the United States.

Others come from regional countries.

Bvudzijena said it was normal practice for police to arrest people seeking to enter Chiadzwa without authorisation.

“Let’s not forget that Chiadzwa is a protected area,” he said.

Police also often raid lodgings of suspected foreign diamond dealers, forcing most of them to flee across the border into Mozambique where diamond dealing is not an offence.

The majority of the foreign buyers stay in the Mozambican town of Manica, about 60 kilometers east of Mutare.

The continued smuggling of diamonds flies in the face of claims by the police that the fields were tightly secure.

“What is happening now is that the workers from companies mining for the diamonds are the ones supplying dealers,” said a government source.

“The workers smuggle the diamonds with the help of solders there. It’s back to business now.”

Two months ago two directors of Canadile Mining were arrested after they were found in possession of diamonds at a police check point.

The directors Komilan Packirisamy, 37 and a Viyandrakumar Naidoo, 42 were taken to court and subsequently cleared.