The killings by security guards from mining companies in Chiadzwa were sanctioned by the state which explains why no one has been arrested in connection with the deaths, most of them cold blooded, the Executive Director of the Centre for Natural Resource Governance, Farai Maguwu, has said.
Hundreds of villagers from Chiadzwa and surrounding areas have been killed by armed security guards from mining companies, armed police and soldiers patrolling the diamond fields since the discovery of the precious mineral in 2008.
Addressing a press conference in Harare Tuesday, Maguwu said non-governmental and civic organisations were finding it difficult to come up with the exact figures of the victims of the brutality because the government was concealing killings at Chiadzwa.
“Government is aware that they are killing people. All the killings in the mining sector are sanctioned by the state, that is why no one has been arrested,” Maguwu said.
Chairperson of the Chiadzwa Community Development Trust, Gladys Mavusa said 15 people had been killed in just five months from July 2017, while 256 had been assisted by the trust to get medical attention after being brutalized by security details.
The chairperson of the Marange Development Trust, Malvern Mudiwa, said there was never justification for taking someone’s life over diamonds.
“People are shot in cold blood. Yes they might be trespassing, but could that be justification for killing. If possible, they should just remove their diamonds from our area,” he said.
He said the Marange villagers were now being treated like prisoners in their own area and were subjected to curfews by guards from the mining companies and the army.
Mudiwa said they could not move freely as they were always subjected to searches, harassment and beatings by the security details, adding relatives had to obtain permits from Mutare for them to be able to visit their loved ones in Marange and Bocha areas.
“Even Smith never did that to us. It was better if they had moved us. What we want is freedom of movement but I need a permit with the very same details on my ID, which I have to get from Mutare, 85 km away, for me to be able to freely move,” he said.
Headman Chipindirwi told the press conference they were now living in captivity as they needed police authority from Mutare Police to receive visitors.
“What worries us is that as a resident of the area, I am required to get clearance to travel to other areas and that clearance is given by someone who is not even from the Chiadzwa area,” he said.
He said there was wanton arrest of villagers, including those herding cattle and coming from their fields.
Farikai Njesa, who was representing headman Mukwada, said instead of them enjoying the benefits of being endowed with the precious mineral, they were being made to suffer.
“Now the community is in trouble because of the diamonds. They are supposed to be assisting us by building schools and clinics, but they are setting dogs on our people. There hasn’t been any meaningful development in Chiadzwa since the discovery of the diamonds,” he said.