Gold warlords granted bail
PROMINENT Esigodini businessman, Baron Dube and his rival, Mthulisi Ngwenya were yesterday each granted bail pending trial for allegedly inciting rival groups of illegal gold panners to engage in a street fight for the control of goldfields.
Dube (41) who was once convicted of threatening to commit murder and Ngwenya (33) both from Habane Township were remanded out of custody to August 11 by Esigodini resident magistrate Mr Lungile Ncube. They are facing charges of incitement to commit public violence.
Dube who was represented by Ms Nozabelo Ndlovu of Kossam Ncube and Partners was granted bail of $800. Ngwenya is out on $300 bail and his lawyer is Mr Zibusiso Ncube of Ncube and Partners.
They were ordered to report twice a week at Esigodini Police Station and not to interfere with state witnesses as part of bail conditions.
The state was opposed to the bail application, arguing that there was no guarantee that if granted bail, the two men would not abscond.
The investigating officer, Sergeant Onwell Hangaiwa, in his evidence, said Dube is an ex-convict with a propensity to committing similar crimes if released on bail.
“Accused is facing a serious crime and if granted bail he is likely to abscond,” he said.
The magistrate said there was no evidence that the two accused persons would abscond.
“There are no compelling reasons by the state suggesting that the accused persons would abscond if granted bail. The court believes that if stringent conditions are put in place they will cure the state’s fears,” said Mr Ncube.
He ruled that both accused persons were proper candidates for bail.
“In trying to strike a balance between the interests of the accused persons and justice, the court is of the view that the applicants are proper candidates for bail,” said the magistrate.
Dube and Ngwenya are accused of inciting a group of youths from their camps to engage in public violence.
Dube leads a group from Filabusi while Ngwenya is the ring leader of the Nkayi group.
On July 28, the two rival camps fought for about seven hours in Habane Township over the control of gold fields in Esigodini.
Police fired shots into the air to stop the savage fighting in which the gangs attacked each other with stones, iron bars and machetes.
The street battle caused shops and businesses to close.
Prosecuting, Mr Jefta Nyikadzinashe said on July 28, Dube engaged the services of Eric Nyoni and several others who were not identified to attack a group of illegal gold panners from Nkayi.
The court heard that Dube transported the group from Filabusi to Esigodini Business Centre where the clashes took place.
Ngwenya communicated with Nkosiyazi Moyo and Sicelo Mkhwananzi and incited them to attack Dube’s group.