UMZINGWANE legislator Levi Mayihlome (Zanu PF) has called on the Zimbabwe National Army to intervene and deal with wanton killings and violence that is being blamed on tribal fights between informal miners in Gwanda and Esigodini, which he said has gone out of hand.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
The retired brigadier-general, who also chairs the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs and Defence, told mourners at the funeral of one of the victims on Tuesday that only the army’s intervention could deal with the violence involving gold panners.
“I have brought up this issue in Parliament, and I will focus on this ward until there is change. I will ensure that we bring the army to bring sanity to this area,” he said.
“We will not accept such lawlessness. Young men (gold panners) who come here to work, if you cannot live in peace with us, go back where you are coming from.”
Matabeleland South provincial police spokesperson Chief Inspector Philisani Ndebele, however told Southern Eye that the alleged killings and violence were “being exaggerated” although a week hardly passes without reports of murder involving artisanal miners in Esigodini and Gwanda.
“Some of these murder or violence will not be involving gold panners. There is now a trend where all cases of violence and murder, even at bottle stores, are blamed on gold panners, which will not be the case,” Ndebele said.
“It has been blown out of proportion, but I can assure you that the situation is under control and the police are doing everything possible to assure the people of their security.”
Esigodini residents who attended the burial of the one of the victims, Nkosizwile Ndlela, called on the authorities to deal with the situation.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) and the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) have also been urged to investigate why reported cases gold panners’ wars were rampant in Matabeleland.
Bulawayo-based human rights activist Khumbulani Maphosa in a letter to the ZHRC and NPRC pleaded with the two organs to investigate why the killings and violence involving gold panners were rampant in Matabeleland.
“Section 44 of the constitution mandates that the State, every person, including juristic persons and every institution and agency of government at every level must respect, protest, promote and fulfil the rights and freedoms of the people,” Maphosa said in a letter dated October 12.
“My concern is that State agencies have been failing to protect the Matabeleland artisanal miners from loss of life, violence and targeted discriminatory killings.”