OPERATIONS at a Chinese diamond mining company in Chiadzwa were this week temporarily halted by villagers protesting against the alleged failure to exhume the bodies of their relatives currently located within mining fields.
BY KENNETH NYANGANI
Jinan was reportedly under fire from villagers who were claiming that the Chinese firm is disrespecting their culture and allegedly desecrating graves of their relatives’ and throwing the remains into slime dams.
Over 40 villagers on Tuesday stormed the company’s premises forcing operations to temporarily stop. The residents were demanding that the Chinese firm should relocate the graves to a secure place.
The residents, some of whom had travelled from Arda Transau where they were relocated, reportedly barred some Jinan workers from entering the premises.
Anti-riot police was called to disperse the crowd, while Mutare district administrator Simon Sigauke also intervened in the matter.
Jinan reportedly gave in to the demands by the villagers and promised to exhume the bodies on January 11 and 12. Sigauke yesterday said he was not happy with the action taken by villagers saying government did not tolerate such rowdiness.
“I heard that they wanted to stop operations. I was forced to travel there and they had dispersed when l arrived,” he said. “I heard that police intervened, but issues should be resolved amicably. Jinan has its own problems as the company is struggling financially.”
But villagers insisted they were not happy with the conduct of the Chinese firm.
“l have a relative’s grave that was removed by earthmoving equipment. It seems they were not caring. The issue is simple: Why can’t they just exhume the bodies and rebury them where there are no mining activities?’’ said one of the protesting villagers.
Upfumi Hwepasi Kuvatema president Mathew Mundondo confirmed Jinan had agreed to exhume the bodies.
“We are happy that the Jinan has finally agreed to exhume the bodies and rebury them at a safe place. The bodies will be exhumed on the 11th and 12 of this month. Already we are taking down names of the affected families,’’ he said.
Marange pressure group B-Mend secretary-general Farai Kushata while welcoming the move, bemoaned the lack of development in Marange despite the abundance of mineral resources.