HomeNewsUmfurudzi Game Park miner loses claims in violent takeover

Umfurudzi Game Park miner loses claims in violent takeover

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UMFURUDZI Game Park miner, John Maungwa has lost control of his gold rich mining claims to Shantelle Chikafu, who once claimed to be President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s daughter and Shamva North legislator, Oscar Gorerino.

BY RICHARD MPONDE

Maungwa lost the claims after two nights of violence which left nine mine workers seriously injured and vehicles as well as mining infrastructure destroyed.

Problems started on Sunday night when four armed men visited Umfurudzi Game Park accompanied by over 100 illegal gold miners linked to Chikafu who held Maungwa’s workers hostage overnight reportedly torturing them “military style.”

Reports coming from Maungwa’s Wickman 23 Mine yesterday said the Chikafu and Gorerino gang overpowered Maungwa’s workers and took over the mine where they have brought in an excavator to conduct mining operations on his claims.

They also damaged Maungwa’s truck used to ferry gold ore from the mine by deflating its tyres and smashing its windows in full view of ZimParks rangers. Maungwa’s workers have been displaced and are reportedly hiding in the hills in the game park fearing for their lives.

In an interview, Maungwa yesterday confirmed the new development and said he had lost a lot of property and his gold ore to the gang.

“They have dispersed my workers, damaged my truck by deflating its tyres and stole the gold ore,” Maungwa said.

“Right now, the gang members are mining from my gold pits with their excavator and they also burnt down the entire mining infrastructure at the site. My workers are now hiding in the hills fearing for their lives. Nine of them are seriously injured and seeking treatment,’” Maungwa said.

He said he failed to get help from the police, ZimParks or other relevant authorities as they feared confronting the gang members because of their political backing.
“Police went to the mine on Monday after I had made a report of assault against my workers and blocking of my trucks which were removing gold ore from the mine,” he added.

“This was after the High Court ruled in my favour, instructing that I resume operations. However, they refused to enforce the order or arrest the assailants even after being identified in their presence.”

Mashonaland Central police spokesperson, Fedelis Dhewu yesterday confirmed that they had been some disturbances at the mine and police were investigating.

“There is something happening there, but the reports are not being done in earnest as there are reports and counter reports,” Dhewu said.

“We can’t be seen to be siding with one side but investigate and establish the truth. We are going to meet a team coming with the dispol and that is when we are going to get the true picture.”

When NewsDay visited the mine on Monday before the complete takeover, over 100 youths were camped at there, waiting to pounce on 200 tonnes of ore left at the site when ZimParks director-general Fulton Mangwanya directed cessation of mining operations after the matter spilled to court.

There were also police details led by Mt Darwin officer-in-charge, a Chief Inspector Kisimusi who had arrived to investigate after Maungwa asked for help to enforce an order made by Harare High Court judge Justice Tawanda Chitapi delivered on November 25 this year.

According to Chitapi’s order recorded under case no HC 5286/20, ZimParks director-general was ordered to reinstate Maungwa to his mine after he had written a letter on September 3, suspending operations arguing that Maungwa was not support to grant to mine in the safari area without the consent of Environment minister Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu.

However, when police arrived on the ground, they took statements from the injured miners and ordered that they be taken to hospital for treatment but refused to enforce the order arguing that it was a court application, not an order.

They also did not arrest the armed suspects who held hostage and assaulted Maungwa’s workers on Sunday night and were present at the scene and are suspected to be “military” men bused in from Kwekwe.

Kisimusi also refused to displace mob from Maungwa’s premises, arguing that they were too many and he had no manpower to do so.

Two of the victims needed urgent medical attention as their conditions were visibly deteriorating.

However, Chitapi’s order which the police said was a court application, a copy of which NewsDay has in its possession, rapped Mangwanya for acting unlawfully and taking the law into his own hands.

“The respondent (Mangwanya) has taken the law into his own hands and seeks to justify his conduct and actions and those of the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority upon an alleged breach of the law by the applicant (Maungwa) which breach is doubtful in the light of the explanation given by the applicant,” part of Chitapi’s ruling read.

Even assuming that the applicant has been mining in violation of section 119 aforesaid the respondent (Mangwanya) can’t in turn violate the law by resorting to self- help.

“The respondent’s conduct is arguably in contempt of the order this court granted in case HC 2180/20 (Maungwa vs Chikafu). The respondent’s legal practitioners should have told him that a court order binds the world at large.

“The conduct of the respondent was just as unlawful as that of the respondent (Chikafu) in case No HC2180/20 as far as the forced access, denial of the applicant and his workers to the mine is concerned.”

Justice Chitapi added: “Parks and Wildlife Management Authority to forthwith restore access and possession of the mine called Wickman 23 and shall not interfere with the mining operations thereat pending the return date. Accordingly, the provisional order is granted as prayed for.”

The situation became tense on Monday, with NewsDay witnessing truckloads and commuter omnibuses reportedly carrying Chikafu and Gorerino’s backers heading to the mine after news filtered that the police had left the scene without enforcing the court order. A NewsDay crew left the mine in a huff as the situation was getting tense.

Last week, Gorerino declared to NewsDay that even if Maungwa won the court orders, he would never have control of the mine although he distanced himself from the disturbances.

 Follow Richard on Twitter
@muponderichard

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