Dur­ban Mine stand-off ends

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Whins­ley Masara Chron­i­cle Reporter

MAN­AGE­MENT at Dur­ban Mine in Bubi Dis­trict has said the nine-day stand­off that saw more than 300 amako­rokoza be­ing trapped un­der­ground has ended.

The mine man­ager, Mr Cleopas Siny­olo said on Thurs­day that the il­le­gal min­ers had been trapped af­ter an un­named busi­ness­man, who they each paid $70, with­drew a lad­der that they used to en­ter the more than 120 me­tre deep mine.

The busi­ness­man al­legedly pan­icked when mine own­ers called the po­lice af­ter the il­le­gal pan­ners, most of them from Shu­rugwi, Chegutu, Kadoma, Mashava, Mure­hwa and Zvisha­vane, in­vaded the mine to ex­tract gold.

“There had been a stand­off since Septem­ber 12 with scores of il­le­gal min­ers who were re­fus­ing to come out of the mine shaft. We have man­aged to clear them all out, with the last four who had been found on the fourth and fi­nal level, hav­ing been ar­rested.

“The il­le­gal min­ers had been trapped for more than 48 hours on Septem­ber 12 when help fi­nally ar­rived,” said Mr Siny­olo.

A ma­jor­ity of the pan­ners ini­tially re­fused to come out of the mine fear­ing ar­rest but by Tues­day last week, res­cuers had con­vinced about 130 to come out. Those who re­mained re­port­edly threat­ened to at­tack res­cuers with ma­chetes, al­though they had been with­out food in the shafts for five days.

By Satur­day Septem­ber 17, mine work­ers had re­port­edly cleared amako­rokoza from the first three lev­els of the mine and were en­gag­ing those in the fourth and fi­nal level.

Mr Siny­olo said: “Last week we man­aged to re­move an­other 55 and on Mon­day, 17 more came out, with the last four hav­ing been ar­rested af­ter they only came out on Tues­day.”

ZRP of­fi­cer com­mand­ing Nkayi Dis­trict, Chief Su­per­in­ten­dent Never Tembo said he was not aware of the ar­rests but be­lieved the sit­u­a­tion had now been han­dled well. “The sit­u­a­tion is now calm and you can ac­tu­ally prove it by at­tend­ing to a stake­hold­ers’ meet­ing that is be­ing held to­day (Thurs­day) in Bubi and you could also visit the mine,” said Chief Supt Tembo.

The di­rec­tor of the mine, Mr John Moore, who was out of the coun­try, is said to have shut down the mine last year.

Ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cials at the mine, it has ca­pac­ity to pro­duce more than 18kg of gold ev­ery month.

Of­fi­cials from the Zim­babwe Min­ers Fed­er­a­tion (ZMF) also vis­ited the mine to as­sess the sit­u­a­tion and map the way for­ward.

In a tele­phone in­ter­view with The Chron­i­cle on Thurs­day, ZMF spokesper­son Mr Dos­man Mangisi said his team was still on the ground, as­sess­ing the sit­u­a­tion.

“On Satur­day (Septem­ber 17) sounds of ex­plo­sives be­ing blasted from un­der­ground could still be heard. The man­age­ment and the po­lice couldn’t go un­der­ground to ar­rest them be­cause some of them had dan­ger­ous weapons such as ma­chetes and they were threat­en­ing to harm any­body dis­turb­ing them. They later started com­ing out in small groups and some of them left with gold ore,” said Mr Mangisi.

When The Chron­i­cle vis­ited the mine on Thurs­day, there was no sign of ac­tiv­ity and the blast­ing that was go­ing on dur­ing ear­lier vis­its had stopped. The il­le­gal min­ers were re­port­edly each pay­ing mine work­ers $500 to be al­lowed to ex­tract gold for three days.

A source from the com­mu­nity said the amako­rokoza who had in­vaded Dur­ban Mine were not lo­cals. The source al­leged the pan­ners were ac­tu­ally work­ing with the po­lice, a claim which we could not in­de­pen­dently ver­ify with them (po­lice).

“The way po­lice have han­dled this mat­ter makes us sus­pect that th­ese min­ers are their peo­ple or they are work­ing with them. Po­lice of­fi­cers were guard­ing the premises since last week, but how is it pos­si­ble that they are sur­viv­ing with­out food down there? It means they have food and it means the po­lice are al­low­ing them to get food. We don’t un­der­stand the rea­son for them be­ing at the mine,” said the source.-@win­nie_­masara

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