Michael Magoronga, Midlands Correspondent
GAIKA Gold Mine in Kwekwe, which recently opened under a Community Ownership Trust, has temporarily ceased operations following the death of two people after a war of machetes broke out.
The mine, which has been closed for the past 20 years, was reopened in February following the intervention of Mbizo Legislator Cde Vongaiishe Mpereri as a Community Ownership Trust where youths take turns to extract the precious mineral.
But violence has reared its ugly head at the mine last week with machete wars being the order of the day as the youths reportedly fight for pits.
Two people, a security guard manning the mine and a youth, have reportedly died while several others were injured as a result of the violent running battles.
Midlands Provincial Police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Ethel Mukwende said the reports were yet to reach her office.
“I will check but I am yet to receive any report of that nature, I will come back to you after confirming,” she said.
Cde Mpereri, who chairs the Trust, confirmed the reports and blamed youths from other towns for causing the chaos.
“The people who are behind these deaths are not from Kwekwe, they are outsiders who have heard that Gaika is paying and come during the night to steal gold ore that would have been mined by others,” he said.
Cde Mpereri said activities run from 7AM to7PM every day and no one is allowed to conduct any mining activities during the night.
“We have had problems with people from places like Shurugwi and Zvishavane who come here with evil intentions and cause havoc. They come during the night when people have knocked off and steal gold ore, that is when they have problems with our security personnel,” he said.
“This is the main reason why we do not want outsiders to come in because they cause problems, ever since we resumed operations, we have been doing it in peace,” said Cde Mpereri.
He, however, could not be drawn into discussing the deaths saying the matter was in the hands of the police.
Cde Mpereri said security measures have been taken to ensure the safety of miners.
“We have managed to resolve the matter but it is unfortunate that I cannot divulge measures that we have taken, but I can assure you that security has been improved and anyone caught with a machete will be in for it,” he said.
Cde Mpereri said operations have since resumed after a schedule with proper details of every member conducting activities at the mine was registered with the authorities.
“We have beefed up security. We have also created a register where everyone who is undertaking activities so that we can easily trace them. Those from outside Kwekwe will not be allowed as they cause problems,” he said.
“This is part of our youth empowerment projects and if someone wants to disturb such a programme, they will face the consequences. We cannot be disturbed by two or three selfish individuals”.
The mine has reportedly benefitted more than 2 000 youths from Kwekwe and surrounding areas like Zhombe and Silobela.