Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
AN artisanal miner (24) died while his workmate was hospitalised at Gweru Provincial Hospital after they were kidnapped and tortured for allegedly recording a shortfall of 70 grams of gold during their shift.
Their employer (name withheld) who was not immediately available for comment is alleged to have hired some people who kidnapped and tied both men to trees while assaulting them so that they could account for the shortfall of the gold worth about US$3 400.
The two mine workers were kidnapped on Tuesday and released on Thursday.
Their relatives took them to Gweru Provincial Hospital where one of them Fabian Mabhungu died on Sunday.
In one picture taken while the two were allegedly being tortured, Mabhugu is seen tied to a tree while semi naked.
Gweru Provincial Hospital superintendent Dr Fabian Mashingaidze confirmed Mabhugu’s death and said Mr Lenny Hwehwe (25) has since been discharged.
He said Mabhugu died on Sunday after being admitted together with Hwehwe since Thursday last week.
“I can only confirm that two people were admitted, one died and the other was discharged,” said Dr Mashingaidze.
Acting Midlands Provincial police spokesperson, Assistant Inspector Ethel Mukwende said the police were looking into the kidnapping and murder case.
Mr Hwehwe said they were employed at a mining claim in Shurugwi.
He said they were abducted last week on Tuesday before they were allegedly taken to Chirumhanzu by thugs allegedly hired by their employer.
“I’m in pain. I am being discharged today and I need to go to the police with Fabian’s relatives to make another report over his death. We were abducted and assaulted over missing gold by our boss. That’s all I can say now,” he said.
The deceased’s aunt, Ms Theresa Mabhugu said they were waiting for a post-mortem report.
“It is alleged that on Monday last week, there was a shortfall of 70 grams when these two were smelting gold. That didn’t go down well with the mine owner. On Tuesday we heard that a group of men had abducted them and taken them to Chirumhanzu for questioning. The purpose, we heard, was to force them into revealing where they had stashed the gold,” she said.
“On Thursday they were dropped off and we took them to Gweru Provincial Hospital where they were admitted until Sunday when Fabian passed on and Lenny was discharged. We have been to the police making a report and we are also awaiting for a postmortem report. Funeral arrangements are underway.”