By Staff Reporter
NEVER Tshuma (45), a Katambe villager in Hwange, was arrested Friday for allegedly inciting fellow villagers to resist a coal exploration exercise by some Chinese investors in the area.
He was however granted $10 000 bail by a Hwange court Saturday.
Tshuma chairs the Dinde Development Association in Hwange and is from the village, which is under Chief Nekatambe in Matabeleland North.
Tshuma appeared before Hwange magistrate Aeline Munamati facing two counts of inciting violence.
This was after he allegedly led a group of villagers to dismantle a tent that was pitched by Chinese Beifar Investment who wanted to conduct exploration for coal in the area.
Tshuma denies the charges.
He was granted $10 000 bail and ordered to continue residing at the given address until the matter is finalised.
Court also ordered him not to interfere with State witnesses and not to visit Katambe area where the offence was allegedly committed.
Tshuma was represented by Joylyn Change of Mvhiringi and Associates.
He will back in court on May 17 for routine remand.
On count one, Prosecutor Jamesina Makanza told the court that Tshuma, on April 14, Beifar Investment proceeded to Nekatambe village Chief Nekatambe, Dinde, Hwange where they were granted a special grant to explore coal in the concession.
Beifer pitched a tent at the site before they could start the process.
This attracted a number of people from the community who went and gathered near the tent enquiring on what was happening.
The villagers said they never consented to the investment programme in their area.
Beifer Investment did not talk to the community members in return but sought the assistance of the police who attended the scene.
Police advised the community that Beifer investment had a special grant from Ministry of Mines to explore for coal in the area.
Police further advised the community members to lodge their complaints via a legal route if they felt their rights were being violated.
Tshuma, who was not there at the time, later came and started addressing people saying the investor must remove the tent and should not be mining in the area as they have already dismissed the granting of the mining rights.
He reportedly said that the issue of land was sensitive and could result in the death of people.
Tshuma reportedly told the community members to immediately remove the tent, which they did.
Police warned Tshuma against his actions.
On count 2, Tshuma, on April 15 around 1100hrs, Beifer Investments phoned the police seeking assistance.
Police found members of the community gathered around the tent. While at the scene, Tshuma reportedly told the villagers to follow him and dismantle the tent.
Disregarding police presence, the villagers followed him and ordered Beifer workers to remove the tent before villagers could take action.
The villagers started shouting in anger calling for the dismantling of the tent.
Tshuma was subsequently arrested and continued to order community to accompany him to the police station.
The Dinde community has been locked in a standoff with the Chinese nationals for the past two years over a proposed coal project which villagers want to be stopped as it infringes on their land and environmental rights.
The villagers contended that although they never consented to the project, they were shocked to see documents purporting they had consented.
Last week, the community petitioned the Parliament of Zimbabwe to investigate the legitimacy of the Environmental Impact Assessment report submitted to the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) bY Geovannah Consultancy on behalf of Beifer Investments.