BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
Farai Faranando, a victim of vicious attacks by illegal gold miners in Manicaland’s Penhalonga area, is angry that his attackers are still roaming free after they bludgeoned him and dozens others.
Feranando said people in the Tsvingwe area were living in fear of the machete gangs, who are moving in the area in groups, terrorising villagers and robbing them.
He called for urgent intervention by the authorities.
“The attack was frightening. I escaped death by a whisker,” Faranando said.
“A gang of 13 men armed with machetes emerged from nowhere and besieged the bottle-store where we were enjoying our beer, having fun with colleagues.
“One of them hit me with a beer bottle from behind and before I could comprehend what was happening, more people, all armed and looking menacing, joined him, pushing me down before they stabbed me with knives all over my body including in my face.
“Two of my colleagues who attempted to save me from the attack were also attacked, stabbed with knives.
“All this was unprovoked. We didn’t even know any of these men,” said Faranando who implored law enforcement officers to do something quickly to save the people in his area.
Penhalonga Youth Development Trust member, Tapiwa Clinton who witnessed the incident in Tsvingwe a fortnight ago said they were now living in fear for their lives.
“We have issues of terrorists, which need to be addressed,” Clinton said.
“I was invited by the police to explain what really transpired.
“As youths we are now afraid of losing our lives.
“Redwing Mine has been sheltering illegal miners who are strangers in these parts.
“We do not know where they come from but they are suspected to be from Shurugwi area, hence the name MaShurugwi.
“Some of them are camped in the community and they were armed with machetes and knives.”
Penhalonga Residents and Ratepayers Trust chairperson Weston Makoni said: “Police need to do something because we are now living in fear. “Our lives are in danger.”
Redwing Mine workers committee chairperson Peter Zheke said: “We don’t know the motive behind the attack by the MaShurugwi on people here in Penhalonga.”
Centre for Research and Development executive director James Mupfumi said there was a mining dispute that had resulted in violation of rights of the people who were being intimidated, and victimised in violent incidents.
He also expressed concern over uncontrolled, environmental-hostile mining activities that were causing pollution and posing other hazards to the people living in the area.
“Better Brands must respect the outcome of the creditors’ vote of September 9, 2021 of rescission of post-commencement agreements pursuant to section 144 of the Insolvency Act,” Mupfumi said.
“It is clear that the amount of gold that the company was producing per month was unsustainable to meet creditors’ demands.
“Over 300 workers are owed close to US$12 million in salary arrears at Redwing.
“The workers’ rights to choose a suitable investor at Redwing must be respected.
“Redwing’s turnaround strategy that was approved by creditors must be allowed to materialise without political interference.
“Better Brands has an obligation to cooperate with the law to ensure that there is rehabilitation to over 5 000 open pits that were created by their mining operations.
“The community of Penhalonga deserves mining that is accountable to local taxation and environmental health and peace.”