Sydney Kawadza Mash West Bureau Chief
The dispute over the gold claims in Chegutu turned fatal last week when one man was shot dead after police tried to control a marauding crowd of approximately 3 000 artisanal miners who wanted to stop the Deputy Sheriff from evicting them.
The artisanal miners, who are part of the Danangwe District Youth Mining Co-operative, have been embroiled in a dispute with Breekridge Investments over the gold claims.
The case, however, spilt into the High Court which ruled against the artisanal miners.
In an interview, national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed the death of Lovemore Feyani after the skirmishes that followed when the Deputy Sheriff tried to evict the artisanal miners.
“On April 25 this year, Mr Drian Mudimu, an Assistant Sheriff, was accompanied by the police to evict some artisanal miners in Chegutu but was confronted by at least 3 000 men who were resisting the eviction order.
“The artisanal miners threatened the court official and police fired teargas to disperse the rowdy crowd and, subsequently, fired shots at the crowd which had turned violent leading to the death of one man,” he said.
Asst Comm Nyathi said police are, however, investigating the case. He also urged artisanal miners to resolve their differences without engaging in violent activities.
“What is important is for them to resolve their disputes peacefully. This also includes the other stakeholders in the sector and we want to urge them to play their part and work in peace and harmony with others,” he said.
“The artisanal miners should also be reminded that that there are certain procedures that need to be followed in resolving disputes without resorting to violence.”
The Danangwe District Youth Mining Co-operative recently vowed to take over the five blocks that are part of 61 claims believed to be lying idle for alleged speculative purposes. The co-operative’s chairperson, Mr Stewart Luckford, said their decision was informed by Government’s intentions to repossess idle gold claims which he claimed had been lying idle since 1969.
He said Breekridge came in 2000 to do exploration and displaced people between 2001 and 2002 but no mining had been taking place since then.
“In 2010, we organised ourselves as youths and formed our co-operative which was fully registered in 2014 and since then we have been religiously contributing gold to Fidelity Printers and Refiners.”
He said the miners invested their funds to resuscitate the mines abandoned several years ago. Mr Luckford said the youths were ready to work with the company suing them as long as the five blocks were secured.
Mashonaland West provincial Chiefs’ Council chairman Senator Chief Ngezi also called for dialogue between the company and the co-operative.
“They should come to the negotiating table. They might claim the claims but the youths are also bona fide citizens who should benefit from the country’s natural resources.
“I once assisted Breekridge to resolve a dispute with a farmer when they wanted to construct a road through his farm and the issue was solved amicably so the same can be done at the mine,” he said.
Government has raised concern over claims held for speculative purposes across the country.