There was a near-death experience for illegal miners at Jumbo mine in Mazowe yesterday after a gang of six machete-wielding thugs, known as Mashurugwi threatened to go on a rampage before being whisked away by the police.
The police had to fire gunshots as the gang fought violently to save their lives while the other miners looked terrified.
The six, believed to be part of a terrorising gang of illegal miners in the gold-rich area, had “captured” some open pits and illegally entered into the mine after threatening to kill other bewildered miners.
263Chat, which was at the scene when the incident unfolded, witnessed the melee as police struggled to bring the situation to a halt.
One of the arresting police officers told this publication that the six were in the habit of confiscating gold ore from other miners and forcibly invade their pits and in the event of refusal, they would attack their victims with machetes and other sharp objects.
“We carried out an operation which nabbed six thugs who had gone underground unsanctioned. They forced their way in and we got a tip-off so we waited for them to come out and we took them in,
“However, true to their violent nature, they resisted arrests and were becoming violent while the angry mob was baying for their blood. We had to fire warning shots to disperse the crowd otherwise it would have been a lot worse,” said the officer on condition of anonymity.
The group, which is part of a gang that is causing untold suffering and fear among the people in Mazowe is said to be politically connected and they often boast that they can do whatever they want as they will not be arrested.
One of the illegal miners in Mazowe told 263Chat that they live in fear of being attacked by the Mashurugwi gang and were no longer able to move freely.
“Every night, they come and terrorize us, they tell us that they own these pits and their bosses instruct them to do as they please. They carry machetes and sharp objects all the time and for us, moving at night has become a nightmare because if they see you, they will attack you,” said the miner, Munyaradzi Mandove.
Another source said the menacing gang resides in Bindura where they stay with sex workers in taverns and terrorise unsuspecting residents in the high-density suburbs of the small mining town.
He said the gang is connected to police and they pay bribes in order to evade arrests in the event that they are caught.
“We don’t know when they will pounce next, we live in fear and the police is not helping because they aid these criminal activities,” said the source, identified as Uncle Diva.
During the recently held Mining Federation conference in Gweru this week, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said he was alarmed when he read about the violence unleashed by the panners in the media.
“We don’t want this (acts of violence), anyone found in possession of these dangerous weapons must be arrested and sent to jail,” said Mnangagwa.