One of the owners of Sherwood Block where gold panners are stampeding for the precious mineral, Robert Chipwanyira, on Monday lodged an urgent High Court application in Bulawayo seeking to bar the police and Zanu PF activists from entering the mining claim.
Chipwanyira, through lawyers Gundu and Dube, want the court to grant them an order barring Zanu PF Midlands security officer Owen “Mudha” Ncube and the police from entering the lucrative mine or selling gold extracted from it by illegal gold miners.
The miners were allowed into Sherwood Block over the weekend under heavy police and military guard and all the gold extracted was reportedly logged with the police mineral department.
“The respondents be hereby ordered to allow applicant access to his gold claim being E&S 15 Sherwood Block, Kwekwe . . . be hereby ordered not to dispose of all the gold in their possession and allow applicant to take part in the ownership and verification process,” reads part of the order sought.
Chipwanyira in his application cites the officer commanding Kwekwe District, a J. Chituku, a Superintendent Hita, the detective inspector in charge of CID Minerals, one Mastock, and Ncube as 1st to 4th respondents respectively.
Meanwhile, another Kwekwe resident, Clifford Sibanda, who is also claiming to have mining rights on the same gold claim through his lawyer Josinia Maupa, has written to the mines commissioner, calling for the eviction of both the police and the illegal gold panners.
“We are advised that illegal mining activities are currently taking place at the mining blocks in question . . . fictitious mining syndicates were formed to perpetuate this illegality.
“If the ‘corporate’ veil were to be lifted, it will reveal top political party heavyweights who have decided to regard our client as a nonentity without identity.
“Our client is a small man who looks to the law for protection, but has since been reduced to a ‘Peeping Tom’ on blocks he pegged,” reads part of the letter addressed to the Midlands mining commissioner
Reacting to the letter which was copied to him, Deputy Minister of Justice Obert Gutu said the police should arrest all the illegal panners involved in the looting of gold at the mine and bring them to justice.
He further condemned the politicisation of mineral resources in the country, saying it portrayed the country in bad light to foreign investors whom he said “the economy badly needs”.
“The culprits should be arrested and brought to book so that justice can take its course and all ill-gotten wealth should be accounted for with the possibility of it being returned to its rightful owners,” he said.