Chief takes over mine. . . Hires bouncers to drive out locals

Danisa Masuku

HE’S a mafia chief, call him Don Sigodo!

Villagers in Silobela under Chief Malisa are up in arms with Chief Sigodo who they accuse of hiring thugs to push them out of a community owned mine trust.

So nasty is the dispute that war veterans who for years have benefited from the mine, have threatened to retaliate against Chief Sigodo who they feel has overstepped his authority.

Sigodo last week allegedly unleashed more than a dozen bouncers to assault community members who have claims at Peace Mine.

Peace Mine is a community trust ownership mine where villagers own the mining rights. Peace Mine operations manager Malanga Nkiwane told B-Metro that the chief hired bouncers from as far as Bulawayo to hold the fort for him.

“Chief Sigodo sent about 20 bouncers who we later learnt were from as far as Bulawayo to force everyone out of this mine.

“However, some of the community members who included war vets and youths resisted the move. That is when all hell broke loose as there was chaos all over and some of the community members engaged in fierce fights with bouncers,” said Nkiwane adding that the bouncers fled seeing that they stood no chance.

After it emerged that Chief Sigodo allegedly had a hand in the chaos, Nkiwane confronted the chief who however, professed ignorance over the matter, but said he was the rightful owner of the mine.

“When we engaged him (Chief Sigodo) he produced court documents stating that he is now the sole owner of the mine hence the community had to move out and he would bring his own workers. But we resisted his order and told him that as a community we are not leaving the mine because what he did was illegal,” said Nkiwane.

Chief Sigodo denied sending thugs to force out community members from Peace Mine. “I never sent thugs, I’m in Bulawayo and I don’t know anything about that. I haven’t been in Silobela for quite some time,” said Sigodo.

Nkiwane, however, said the takeover of the mine would plunge about 1 000 community members into poverty.

“About 1 000 people survive on this mine and there is no industry here so it is their only source of livelihood,” he said.

When B-Metro visited the mine community members expressed concern over the manner in which the chief was allegedly behaving.

“We are worried because this mine does not fall under Chief Sigodo’s jurisdiction but it is under Chief Malisa. If Chief Sigodo wants to work with us he should join us rather than evict us. We fought for this country and we will defend the heritage of our community and not let our children suffer because of one greedy person,” said Ezekiel Ndlangisa, a war veteran.

Zanu-PF youth chairperson for Ward 27 Freeman Sibanda said the mine was a source of income for the young and unemployed. “Most of the youths who completed Form Four or failed to further their education work here at the mine. But if this mine is taken where will all these youths go? This will cause crime in the area,” he said.

He added: “As a community we are appealing to our Member of Parliament to intervene and take this matter to Parliament so that the Government could help us,” he said.

A widow, Sibusisiwe Moyo, a mother of eight children said her dependants would be doomed if they were chucked out.

“I have been paying fees for my four children who are attending secondary school but due to this wrangle, I will fail to pay their fees and for their upkeep,” said Moyo.