GOLD WAR

Esigodini gold wars resurface

Andile Tshuma
A 29-YEAR-OLD man was struck on the face once with a machete during a gold war in Esigodini on Monday night.

The identity of the injured man is yet to be established. However, sources said he was rushed to United Bulawayo Hospitals.

Sources who spoke to B-Metro said turf wars resurfaced during the week, barely a fortnight after police held an anti-violence campaign in the area.

Njabulo Ncube, a resident of Habane Extension suburb said gold wars started after a group of miners known as a�?oNkayia�? nicknamed after their place of origin, attempted to go back to their old claim, which had been taken over by the Gokwe/ Kwekwe rivals.

a�?They tried to go back to their site thinking that there wona��t be fighting since the gang leaders were in jail. The Gokwe\Kwekwe gang resisted and outnumbered them, hence the fighting. One of the Nkayi gang members was struck on the face with a machete. Both gangs were armed with axes, knives, swords, and machetes. When he fell to the ground, they fled from the scene, assuming he was dead. He was helped by his friends. They saved his life,a�? said Ncube.

This follows a three-day gold war which left eight people injured and four of them hospitalised after rival artisanal miners were involved in fierce fighting in Habane, an extension suburb in Esigodini.

The area, in Umzingwane district, which is rich in gold has been plagued by gold wars for years and police interventions have not brought about lasting results.

Matabeleland South provincial police spokesperson Inspector Philisani Ndebele could not be reached for comment as his phone rang unanswered.

He, however, recently condemned the fighting in the area during community outreach meetings.

Eight people were injured and four of them were hospitalised after they were attacked by machete-wielding artisanal miners in Esigodini during a three-day gold war that saw two alleged gold barons being arrested. The battle over gold claims has left many injured and some dead in the past five years.

Two alleged gold barons and more than 20 suspects were arrested over last weeka��s attacks.

Residents say three notorious gang leaders operate in the area, controlling about 200 men each.

Esigodini residents had to endure over 48 hours of terror as rival gangs fought in Habane Extension suburb on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, damaging cars, stoning houses and beating up people.

Four people who have been admitted to the United Bulawayo Hospitals have been identified as Ayanda Mpofu, Dereck Dube, Mayibongwe Ncube and Busani Magutshwa. The other four who were injured were rushed to Esigodini Clinic where they were treated and discharged.

Two suspected gold barons, Sifelani Chinguru and Busani Magutshwa, appeared before Esigodini magistrate Tawanda Muchemwa charged with public violence. They were not asked to plead and remanded in custody to Thursday next week.

According to court documents, Chinguru (40) and Magutshwa (37) are ring leaders of the a�?oNkayia�? and a�?MaGokwea�? gangs who are known rivals in the area.

Addressing residents last week, Insp Ndebele said gangsterism must fall as it had created a lot of problems in the area.

The Officer Commanding Gwanda District, Chief Superintendent Enoch Sibanda, in an interview after a residents meeting in Esigodini, said the police were not taking the violence lightly.

a�?We will plead with the courts that people engaging in these gang wars and wreaking havoc be given hefty sentences because innocent people are suffering.

a�?This must stop and it must stop now. People must learn to live together peacefully and all the turf wars must come to an end,a�? he said.

Gold wars have bedevilled Esigodini for years and the perennial problem seems to be getting worse.

In September last year, police officers fled and left behind a cuffed suspect at Habane Business Centre after they were attacked by an armed gang of suspected artisanal miners.

Earlier in 2017, an Esigodini gold baron shot a man who was part of a nine-man gang armed with axes, machetes, spears and knives that allegedly attempted to attack him.

In November 2016, an alleged ringleader of one of the gangs of gold panners was hospitalised after his right foot was chopped off in a fight over a mining claim in Filabusi.