POLICE in Penhalonga have blocked a residents’ demonstration against a local mining company, Redwing Mine, citing fears that the protests could degenerate into public violence.
BY KENNETH NYANGANI
Residents had approached the police seeking clearance to protest against the Metallon Corporation-owned mine’s alleged poor relations with the community, including its alleged failure to develop the area.
The residents had scheduled their demonstration for last Tuesday, but police in a letter addressed to one of the organisers, Patrick Chikoti, said the planned protest was illegal.
“Your notice of an intended demonstration by Tsvingwe residents (Penhalonga) has been acknowledged. The office has information on oath that the intended demonstration may result in public disorder being occasioned,” the letter read.
“Previous similar demonstrations have resulted in serious public disorder, where property was damaged and people injured. There is no indication that conveners were doing so on behalf of the residents, as required in section (25)(2)b of the Public Order and Security Act chapter 11:17.
“It is not clear as to whether vehicles will be used or not as required in terms of section 25 (2)(h)(v) of the said Act. You are, therefore, reminded to observe legal requirements, as any demonstration based on such defective notice renders the demonstration illegal.’’
Chikoti was not reachable for comment yesterday, but human rights activist, Farai Maguwu, said he supported the residents.
“Yes, police have refused to grant the demonstration, but we are fully behind the Penhalonga residents. They told me that they want to demonstrate against illicit financial flows, violence against the community and lack of development, among a number of issues,’’ Maguwu, who heads the Centre for Natural Resource Governance, said.
Last year, villagers stormed the mine protesting the death of an artisanal miner shot by security guards.
The family of the deceased has since filed a $500 000 compensation lawsuit at the High Court.