TWO illegal diamond panners reportedly drowned in Chiadzwa on Saturday after they jumped into a slime dam in a bid to evade arrest by security officers at Diamond Mining Company (DMC).
BY OBEY MANAYITI
Although police in Mutare professed ignorance over the matter, human rights groups, working in Marange, confirmed the deaths and expressed concern over the increase in human rights violations in the diamond fields.
The rights groups said the bodies of the deceased were retrieved from the slime dam on Monday.
“Information coming indicates that panners were seen panning for diamonds on the ridge near Chiadzwa slime dam in the DMC concession. Guards opened fire and the panners, fearing a reaction team, scattered,” the Centre for Research and Development (CRD), an organisation that documents human rights violations in Chiadzwa, said yesterday.
“Three dived into the dam in their bid to escape. Two drowned, but one survived,” the organisation said. “CRD is on record for calling on the government to stop mining operations to allow due process that will pave way for transparency and accountable mining in the diamond fields. Government decided against this idea citing legal challenges in spite of being the majority shareholders in the mining ventures.
“In fact, discord coming from the government has created uncertainty in the diamond fields resulting in increased panning syndicates between company officials and illegal miners, hence loss of lives,” the mining watchdog said.
Marange Development Trust (MDT) also called on the government to urgently restore sanity in the diamond fields.
“It is really sad that lives are lost through this way. As the local community, we urge the government to find lasting solutions regarding Marange diamonds, which are obviously beneficial to all stakeholders including communities,” MDT chairman Malvern Mudiwa said.