Eight Zanu PF activists led by losing Kwekwe Central candidate Masanga “Blackman” Matambanadzo (48), appeared in court facing two counts of robbing from gold panners at Green Diamond Farm in Sherwood Block near Kwekwe.
The eight represented by Tendai Masawi (who ironically lost to Blackman in the party’s primary elections) pleaded not guilty to the charge of robbery when they appeared before Kwekwe magistrate Letwin Rwodzi.
Rwodzi granted Blackman $100 bail while his co-accused were granted $50 bail and ordered to report twice a week at Kwekwe Criminal Investigation Department.
It is alleged the once feared Blackman, Moses Chibi (30), Barbington Makuwe (24), Cephas Sibanda (25), Collen Moyo (26), Danisani Mahlatini (38), Tongai Nyuku (22), Mthokozisi Ncube (32) and three others who are still at large, used force to steal cellphones, a gold weighing scale, GPS 500 metal detector and $11 000 cash from Wonder Nhapata and Tadzirai Banda on January 9.
“They violently attacked the victims using pick handles, open hands and booted feet before stealing their property. . .” reads part of the State outline.
Masawi argued the State had no case against his clients because they were employed by the owner of a mine in Sherwood to help police officers deployed at the site to fend off marauding illegal gold panners.
The defence lawyer argued instead, the police should have arrested Blackman’s victims who were caught with gold scales, cash and a metal detector without a prospecting licence in a protected area.
“The State has no case. In fact, it was a simple scuffle in a mining area . . . the question is why were the alleged victims in a protected area with gold mining equipment? They are the ones who should be in court,” Masawi said in his bail application.
He further urged the court not to be swayed by the publicity the matter had received in the Press over the past week.
Sherwood Block became a protected area after hundreds of bounty hunters invaded it in search of gold following reports that 100kg of pure gold nuggets had been found in the area resulting in “instant rich pickings”.
The Zanu PF youths had been languishing in police custody since their arrest on Wednesday last week, while police continued to carry out investigations on the matter. They will appear in court on January 30 when a trial date will be set.