Gold panner caged for murder



HIGH Court judge Justice Thompson Mabhikwa yesterday jailed a Shurugwi gold panner to 35 years for killing a fellow panner with a machete in a fight over gold.

Justice Mabhikwa said increasing reports of artisanal miners, known as amakorokoza, using dangerous weapons were not only disturbing, but unacceptable as he sentenced Maxwell Sveto (33).

“We have makorokozas who move around in gangs attacking people boasting that they can use machetes and iron bars anywhere and anytime,” Justice Mabhikwa said.

“These people (makorokoza) have become a menace to society and this is unacceptable. We hear reports that they even give themselves names like ‘MaShurugwi, MaNkayi and MaFilabusi’. The Ma-Shurugwi go as far as Karoi, causing havoc there boasting that ‘we are MaShurugwi and the MaNkayi’ terrorise people in Esigodini and they are boastful of their actions.”

Justice Mabhikwa said gang wars involving gold panners end up in unnecessary loss of lives, destruction of property and in the process disturb the peace of citizens going about their normal lives.

Sveto, from Muzondo village under Chief Nhema in Shurugwi was sentenced for killing Amos Washington Mawere in a revenge mission between the two groups of gold panners.

Justice Mabhikwa, who convicted Sveto of murder with actual intent, said the offence was premeditated.

He, however, said Sveto was a young first offender, who had shown signs that he could be re-integrated into society, which saved him from both the death penalty and life imprisonment. Sveto’s co-accused, Edward Kapindu was, however, acquitted of the murder charges.

The State case was that on December 31, 2017, at around 8:30pm at Chikato business centre in Shurugwi, Mawere was drinking beer in the company of Tawanda Mugova, David Tafita and other patrons.

Sveto and Kapindu, armed with machetes, stones and iron bars, then appeared chasing one Tariro Mapopota and started to randomly attack patrons drinking beer, including Cleopas Makere and Mawere.

Mawere was hit by Sveto and he sustained a deep cut on the forehead and another on the back of his head. Mawere collapsed and died on the spot, while the accused fled from the scene. Sveto was later arrested in Beitbridge, while Kapindu was apprehended at his home.