Premier Estate deaths: CNRG condemns gross violation of human rights

Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) has condemned the negligence which led to the death, through suffocation, of artisanal miners who were allegedly buried alive at Premier Estates outside Mutare. 

The organisation described the incident which occurred between 11 and 13 November 2020 as a gross violation of human rights. 

CNRG communications officer, Simiso Mlevu, in a statement said only two bodies, out of an estimated 12 were recovered from the mining pits. 

“An unspecified number of artisanal gold miners are feared to have been buried alive after a Belarusian company subcontracted a Chinese company, Zhondin Investments, to carry out as yet to be ascertained operations at Premier Estate outside Mutare. Two bodies of artisanal miners have been retrieved while some, who according to artisanal miners are close to 10, are still unaccounted for,” said Mlevu. 

“CNRG is shocked with the blatant violation of Human Rights which happened at Premier Estates between 11 and 13 November 2020. This incident epitomises extensive violations of human rights that have been going on in Zimbabwe’s extractive sector, needlessly costing the nation scores of lives. Section 48 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe guarantees every person the right to life.”

Mlevu alleged that according to eye witnesses, the subcontracted Chinese company deliberately filled artisanal miners’ shafts, fully aware that there were people underground, thereby suffocating the artisanal miners to death. 

“The heinous crime was overseen by armed Zimbabwe Republic Police Officers who were providing security to the company’s operations. Police say they are not sure whether the company was doing land reclamation or mining. No sufficient precautionary measures and time were taken to ensure there were no artisanal miners in the pits,” she said.

The organisation recommended that the government terminates mining permits of any corporation that violates the constitutional rights of citizens.

“The Government of Zimbabwe to stop issuing special grants to investors without conducting sufficient due diligence. It should ensure that only investors with a traceable corporate identity are permitted to operate in Zimbabwe,” Mlevu said.

“The Parliament of Zimbabwe to protect and defend the Constitution of Zimbabwe by ensuring that investors uphold the sanctity of life enshrined in the bill of rights.”

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