Gold rush: 16 Zanu PF youths arrested

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KWEKWE Sixteen Zanu PF supporters including a losing parliamentary election candidate, were arrested on Wednesday after they allegedly attacked a gold panner.

Masango Matambanadzo and 15 party activists reportedly committed the offence while trying to force their way into Sherwood Block where huge deposits of alluvial gold were recently discovered.

The suspected gold panner was reportedly struck by a shovel by the gang, allegedly led by the aspiring MP.

He received 16 stitches in the head after the attack.
Matambanadzo was the losing candidate in the Kwekwe Central constituency during the 2008 elections.

Kwekwe District police spokesperson Israel Mhondiwa confirmed the arrest of the Zanu PF activists, but refused to give details saying investigations were still ongoing.

Matambanadzo commonly known as Blackman is alleged to have taken 15 Zanu PF youths to Sherwood Block in direct defiance of an order barring party members from entering the fields without authority.

The order was issued by provincial party security officer Owen Ncube, who claimed Zanu PF was taking over the gold fields and giving them to party youths and war veterans.

As Matambanadzo and his gang made their way into Sherwood, they reportedly came across a group of suspected illegal panners whom they accused of bribing police guarding the area to gain access.
He is alleged to have ordered the youths accompanying him to attack the group.

According to Babington Makuwa, one of the youths reportedly recruited by Matambanadzo, a fierce battle ensued resulting in one Bernard Ndokera being struck with a shovel in the head.

It is alleged the Zanu PF youths stole shovels and metal detectors from the suspected panners. They also allegedly stole $11 000 from one of the panners identified as Wonder Ferill.

Makuwa told NewsDay Matambanadzo had misled the youths into believing they were going to Sherwood Block on party duties.

He came and took me from the beerhall where I was drinking beer with my friends and told us we were going to provide security at the place on behalf of the party, he said.

After Matambanadzos arrest, police reportedly recovered the stolen metal detectors and shovels from his house.

Defence lawyer Linnete Makanda spent the better part of yesterday morning at Kwekwe Central Police Station trying to secure the youths release to no avail.

Meanwhile, a Zanu PF youth who appeared frustrated by the delay in getting access to the alluvial gold fields is in trouble after he allegedly insulted President Robert Mugabe.

Edmore Chaona (36) appeared before Kwekwe magistrate Letwin Rwodzi facing one count of insulting or denigrating the office of the President and two other charges of assaulting some Zanu PF youths.

It is the States case on January 10 at Mbizo shopping centre, Chaona poked Crispen Sirika, a Zanu PF district chairman, who was wearing a Zanu PF T- Shirt bearing President Mugabes picture.

He allegedly poked at the Presidents picture and accused him of thwarting his chances of getting rich by barring him from entering Sherwood Block.

He insulted the President saying: You are affecting our chances of making money while you are carrying Mugabe on your butt, reads part of the State outline.
A fight is reported to have ensured with Chaona allegedly assaulting Sirika and his friend Tryagain Mudadi.

The two then made a report to the police, leading to Chaonas arrest. But he has since denied insulting President Mugabe.

Chaona told the court in his defence outline he was a loyal Zanu PF youth.

He said he clashed with Sirika over a $750 debt owed to him.