Gold panners attack neighbourhood police

By Promise Dube

A member of a neighbourhood watch committee in Insiza South was seriously injured this week after he tried to stop a fight between illegal gold panners and their handler over mining proceeds at Thokozani Business Centre.

The incident happened on February 14, 2024, when the illegal gold panners accused their ‘sponsor’ of cheating them by giving them less money for their work.

The misunderstanding evolved into a full-scale fight, during which the neighbourhood watch committee member tried to intervene but was instead attacked and injured in the process.

The victim was later admitted to Filabusi District Hospital, said sources who spoke to CITE on condition of anonymity.

The sources alleged that on Wednesday afternoon, a group of illegal gold panners attacked a man from Saphila, who is believed to be their handler, accusing him of cheating them out of their dues.

“The group of miners accused this man, citing that he had bought a new car. The miners claimed they had produced 700 grams of gold, but he gave them money worth 100 grams, yet their handler took the rest. The miners did not want to negotiate with the man and were demanding their money, leading to the fight,” said one of the sources.

“That is when the neighbourhood watch committee member arrived at the scene to intervene but was also beaten up by the miners who did not want any interference.”

The source added that one of the illegal miners was later arrested that day, but the others ran away.

“One of the miners was arrested after the man was taken to the hospital,” claimed the source.

In an interview with CITE, Insiza South Ward 5 councillor Ngobe Masonga confirmed the incident, stating that the fight was between a group of miners operating in Nhlangano.

“I can confirm that this happened. I visited the scene after having been notified about the incident. However, I did not find the suspects,” said Masonga.

Nhlangano is located at the confluence of the Insiza and uMzingwane Rivers where illicit mining activities occur.

The area was once fenced off three years ago following a government mandate in response to environmental concerns raised by the Environmental Management Agency (EMA), but illegal miners have since moved again and resumed mining operations.

Matabeleland South acting provincial spokesperson Assistant Inspector Stanford Mguni said the police cannot comment “because the matter is now before the court.”

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