Gokwe miners in 10-year tussle over gold claims

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ARTISANAL miners

BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
TWO Gokwe North miners have renewed their 10-year-old tussle at the High Court over gold claims after one of them reportedly hired thugs to disrupt operations at the disputed mine.

Duly Huni has dragged George Pedzisani Fichani to the High Court in Harare after the latter allegedly hired thugs to remove him from the mining site despite him having a High Court order authorising him to mine.

The urgent chamber application, which was heard by Justice Esther Muremba, is seeking a spoliation order, or to stop Fichani from taking the law into his own hands.

According to court documents, the parties have been involved in a long-running ownership wrangle over four gold mining claims that are in Copper Queen, Gokwe North.

They have been suing each other since 2012.

However, in 2013 Huni successfully obtained an ejectment order against the respondent. In 2017, Huni managed to register the mining claims in his name.

But Fichani claims that the registration of the claims was done fraudulently after the applicant had obtained a default judgment.

He also argued that Huni did not cite him in the case as a party despite the fact that the mining claims were registered in his name.

Fichani is also challenging the registration through an application for rescission of the said default judgment. The matter is still pending at the court.

In this application, Huni alleged that on August 14 last year, Fichani used violent people whose identities are not known to him to order him to vacate from the mining claim.

Huni said he was not given the chance to remove his equipment and he left all the machinery and gold ore, which could have been stolen.

He also averred that the matter should urgently be heard.

However, Justice Muremba dismissed the application for lack of merit saying it was fatally defective since he was seeking a final relief on an urgent basis instead of a provisional order.

“The second point in limine was that the matter was not urgent because the dispute between the parties had started way back in 2012,” Muremba ruled.

Fichani denied dispossessing Huni of the mining claims in question on August 14, 2021.

He said on the day in question he was in Harare where he was attending a court case.

Fichani submitted that after attending court he did not go back to Gokwe on the same day, and only went back on August 15.

“The present application was based on false averments that he was in Gokwe North on August 14 last year, when he was not. I could not have gone to the mining claims when I was fully aware that they are currently registered in the applicant’s name and when I was still in the process of challenging registration thereof,” Fichani submitted.

She ruled that Huni gave little information about how Fichani dispossessed him of the mining claims.

Justice Muremba ruled that Huni did not mention the police in his founding affidavit or attach supporting affidavits from his employees to corroborate or support his story, and neither did he attach any documents to confirm making a police report against Fichani on that day.

“Supporting affidavits from the employees and documents from the police would have confirmed the applicant’s story that on 14 August 2021 the respondent was in Gokwe North and not in Harare as the respondent averred. Without such affidavits and documents the case remained tilted in favour of the respondent who attached his friend’s affidavit which confirmed the respondent’s story that he was in Harare from 13 August 2021 to 15 August 2021. Without any corroborative evidence it was difficult to simply accept the applicant’s story.

“This is why I dismissed the applicant’s application for a spoliation order. He could have been telling the truth, but he did very little to prove his case. He did not prove it on a balance of probabilities. I thus dismiss the applicant’s application with costs,” Muremba ruled.

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