BY SILAS NKALA
VILLAGERS in Mabale ward 17, Hwange East constituency, have raised concern over the rampant looting of the defunct Old Gwayi Mine property with local authorities reportedly reluctant to stop the vice.
The villagers claim the vandals, who have the blessing of local traditional leadership, are cutting down powerline poles, ripping out railtracks and shiping them off to Harare for resale.
“We have been witnessing the looting of these metals by people and we understand some local leaders work with them and authorise the looting. The looters cut the poles and rail lines into pieces before loading them into trucks to sell them in Harare,” said one of the villagers, who indicated that the matter has been reported to various authorities, but no action has been taken.
The villagers said Chief Dingane Nelukoba is aware of the goings-on at the mine.
Councillor Joseph Bonda (MDC Alliance) confirmed that some villagers had raised concerns of vandalism of infrastructure at the mine.
“The villagers complained that there has been massive destruction of infrastructure such as electricity poles and rail lines at the mine,” he said.
Villagers also produced a letter of authorisation given to some people to collect the material by Chief Dingane.
The letter with Chief Dingane Nelukoba’s stamp, dated May 3, 2019 reads: “This serves to confirm that Trynos Phiri …and Guide Fari…have been authorised to collect scrap metal from Mabale area.”
Contacted for comment, Chief Dingane refuted claims that he was involved in the scam.
“Those people are lying, they want to taint my name. I cannot allow people to steal the material. They are the ones who have been stealing things at the mine and I sometimes stop them,” Chief Dingane said.
“Most metals they are talking about are rotten scraps and are very old. The mine closed long ago about 40 to 60 years and when the whites closed the mine then they left my father, who was the chief at the time, to take care of the premises. It is not true that I can allow people to steal anything from the mine.”
Chief Dingane said a certain pressure group was spreading lies about him. He said he has even reported them to the local authorities.
Hwange council chief executive officer Phindile Ncube declined to comment on the matter.
“I cannot comment on assets that do not belong to council, they are out of my jurisdiction,” Ncube said.