A gang believed to be sponsored by a mining baron has unleashed a reign of terror at Esigodini growth point attacking rival gold panners and residents, NewsDay has learnt.
Police in the area have been accused of treating the group with kid gloves instead of moving to crush it as it has reportedly created an unsafe environment in the area.
Residents told NewsDay on Saturday police had cancelled four community meetings in the past two weeks where they were supposed to hear their grievances.
“We were supposed to have a meeting with Inspector Chiriga who is the member-in-charge of the police station here to talk to him about how we can end this lawlessness, but that meeting has been cancelled and I have been ordered not to talk to the Press about the issue,” said a local councillor who identified herself as IB Moyo.
Moyo spoke as she left in a huff, from a site at the Habane Business Centre where the meeting was supposed to take place on Saturday morning.
She told the group of about 20 people that had gathered to disperse saying Chiriga had told her that he could not attend the meeting as the “police from the public relations section” were not available.
But sources said Moyo and the Umzingwane Rural District Council CEO, Ndumiso Mpofu, had to go to the police station on Thursday to discuss the matter.
Mpofu confirmed the development in a telephone interview yesterday saying council was disturbed by the violence.
“Gangsterism is being bankrolled by powerful miners chasing away other miners and this is becoming violent and disruptive of social peace,” he said.
Mpofu said if left uncontrolled, the problem could result in a flight of investors from the growth point. Earlier on Saturday, residents told NewsDay that the group, armed with bricks, attacked residents outside two bottle stores at Habane Township.
One of the victims collapsed and was taken to United Bulawayo Hospitals for treatment, but the assailant was allegedly fined and allowed to go. One of the victims, Eugene Sibanda’s face is still swollen and scarred.
The gang is said to be composed of thugs hired from neighbouring Filabusi and are believed to number 20.
Matabeleland South police spokesman, Inspector Tafanana Dzirutwe, confirmed there was a gang causing havoc in Esigodini.
Dzirutwe said two suspects were arrested for assault while others whose number he could not give offhand were on the run.
He urged the community to co-operate with police in bringing to book criminal elements instead of “engaging in the blame game”.