The Ministry of Mines and Mining Development has denied knowledge of a long-standing mining wrangle at Togotsweu village in Plumtree.
This is after a local mining syndicate Mjiki Family Mining Syndicate fronted by Mathanzima Tshuma, who discovered the precious mineral in his field, claimed that another syndicate had swindled them of their mine claim.
In August last year, the villagers stumbled on the precious mineral and decided to come together to form a mining syndicate.
They then raised ZAR45 000 and US$750 to fund the mine operation.
Trouble brewed when three women: Lucia Ndlovu, Judith Mizha and Sicelo Siziba allegedly invaded the mine and started operating while the villagers awaited response for their mining license applications.
The villagers approached the High Court seeking an order to prohibit the three from mining and it was granted in their favour, however the mining operations have not yet been stopped.
In an interview with CITE, Matabeleland South Provincial Mines Director Tichaona Makuza, said his office was not aware of the wrangle and had not had sight of the High Court order.
“This is the first time I am hearing about this. The villagers were supposed to approach our offices with their concerns and we assist them in the best way possible,” said Makuza.
“If it is so that they approached the High Court seeking a prohibition order then we were never cited in the papers as respondents. If they are saying the order was granted in their favor how then do, we enforce it when we never given the papers?”
The villagers cited they had approached various offices but had not obtained any assistance.
Venn Linos Tshuma, the village head, said since the alleged hostile mine takeover, their lives have been affected.
He said efforts to seek assistance from the police yielded no positive results.
“They just dig around our homesteads and in our fields. Whenever we approach the police for assistance they tell us they do not have transport to come to our area. Funny enough when these six go to the police they get escorted to our area,” Tshuma claimed.
Tshuma said recently, Ndlovu (one of the women who took over the mine) and her accomplices came to the village and called for a ‘meeting’.
He said when the villagers had gathered, two police officers emerged and informed all the villagers that they had been arrested for defying a lockdown order by partaking in public gatherings.
“When the police told the people they had been arrested, some attempted to flee from the gathering. One officer who had a gun fired a warning shot. They thus rounded up 23 villagers. They took them to Mphoengs police station around 11 AM. The villagers were only taken to Plumtree town around midnight so that they could be taken to court in the morning,” narrated Tshuma.
“The villagers,” Tshuma added, “went to court but were subsequently dismissed after Ndlovu and her accomplices were a no show at the court.”
According to some confidential documents seen by CITE, the mine produces an average of 90 grams of gold.
The document stated that this attracts greediness and corrupt practices hence there is a need to monitor what would have been pegged as well as what the surveyor and records officer establish.
Tshuma further noted that the villagers, under Mjiki Family Mining Syndicate, approached the High Court seeking an order to prohibit the invaders from mining and the court ruled in their favour.
The court order seen by this publication, cited one Judith Mizha, Lomile Investment, Ministry of Mines, and Sealskin Trading as respondents.
Tshuma said no matter how much they have tried to seek help, no one has assisted them in bringing Ndlovu and accomplices to comply with the High Court order.