KWEKWE — A police officer cited as a respondent in an urgent High Court application challenging police presence at Sherwood Block — where discovery of alluvial gold sparked a scramble for the precious mineral — has filed his opposing papers.
Detective Inspector Ezekiel Mastock, cited as the third respondent in the application by Robert Chipwanyira who claims to own the mining claims under dispute, lodged his opposing papers on Monday denying charges that police interfered with the businessman’s mining operations.
Mastock also denied there was looting of gold from the mine.
“The police were deployed in the area after it was discovered that the applicant had overlapped the boundaries of his mining claim,” reads part of the opposing affidavit.
“The gold in police custody therefore does not belong to the applicant and was only recovered from the area which he claims to be part of his mine.”
In the urgent application, Chipwanyira said police barred him and his workers from entering and working on their mine.
He said the move by police allowed illegal gold panners aligned to Zanu PF to access the area where they looted gold at the expense of legitimate miners.
But Mastock said police were deployed to protect Chipwanyira’s interests and to stop illegal gold mining.
“The police in the area are protecting the applicant and they have access to the area, which is legitimately owned by the applicant and there are no youths accessing the area,” reads the affidavit.
Although Midlands mines commissioner Wedzerai Dube was not cited as a respondent, he also filed an affidavit absolving the police of any wrongdoing.
He said the area under dispute belonged to the State.
Dube argued that police presence in the area was to protect mine owners such as Chipwanyira from illegal panners.