John Nkala (41), of Sikobokobo area, Nkayi, is suspected to have added an unknown substance into the food of Messers Cleopas Sibanda, Kennis Nkomo, Sipho Mpofu and Marvellous Dube while they were working in a mineshaft.
Acting police spokesperson for Matabeleland South, Sergeant Nkosilathi Sibanda, confirmed the incident which occurred last week.
He said the four gold panners from Esigodini entered a mineshaft and left their food unguarded
“The four gold panners entered the shaft where they were mining gold ore and left their foodstuff inside an unlocked two roomed mine house. While they were in the shaft the suspect is alleged to have administered an unknown substance into their food.
“They later got out of the mine shaft to prepare their supper, which comprised sadza and cabbages,” said Serg Sibanda.
He said after eating the food they started feeling discomfort until two of their workmates found them lying on the ground in a critical condition.
“After eating the food the four gold panners started vomiting and experiencing stomach pains that made it difficult for them to move.
“They were discovered lying on the ground by Mr Lobert Nkomo and Mr Njabulo Ncube, who work at the same mine.
“The two workmates quickly alerted their employer, Mr Clifford Nkala, who ferried them to Esigodini District Hospital for treatment,” said Serg Sibanda.
He said Mr Sibanda was treated at the hospital and discharged while Mr Nkomo and Mr Dube, who were reported to be in a critical condition, were transferred to the United Bulawayo Hospitals. He said Mr Mpofu, who was still at Esigodini District Hospital, was also in a critical condition.
Serg Sibanda said the police attended the scene and recovered the suspected poisoned food and cooking utensils. They later arrested the suspect.