Sunday, April 21, 2013

Report Cites Continued Abuse at Marange Mines

Residents and artisanal miners in Zimbabwe's Marange region are still experiencing human rights abuses at the hands of security personnel employed at the diamond mines in the area, a recent report showed.

The report compiled by Centre for Research and Development (CRD) highlighted 11 recent encounters between security and locals in the area between February and March 2013. These encounters resulted in dog attacks, beatings and one shooting incident that resulted in the death of Herbert Manhanga.

Manhanga was shot by security guards in an area outside of Marange Resources concession on March 6, 2013 and died on the spot after sustaining two bullets to his head. Family members told CRD that they have since received no assistance from Marange Resources and that no further investigation is being conducted into his death as he was shot in a protected area.

CRD subsequently battled to obtain a response from Marange Resources regarding the incident.

"Efforts by the executive officer’s personal assistant Ms Dhlwayo to grant CRD audience with the chief executive officer were rendered fruitless as the executive officer could be heard over the phone instructing her to direct us to phone the mine’s switchboard despite his earlier promises to speak to us," CRD said.

CRD notes other incidents of abuse include an attack on 25 year old Tariro Saungweme from Mutare who was caught panning for diamonds in the Marange Resources mining area with a syndicate of four people. He was immediately arrested after intense and heavy beating where he sustained a deep cut on his forehead. Dogs were set loose on the rest of the syndicate.

The following day, 27 year old Netsai Nechipote was caught by guards in the mining area operated by Mbada Diamonds during the night with a syndicate of six panners. The guards ordered them to lie down and others fled leaving Netsai alone with the guards. She was severely beaten and taken to the guard room for further beating. She was released the next morning and driven and dumped close to Odzi River by company guards. A local businesswoman covered her travelling fees to help her get home. Her condition remains unknown, CRD reportned.

Another encounter with guards involved John Mutakura aged 34 years of Zimuto Camp area Masvingo. He was on his way to fetch water and relish for his meal when he met with National Eye Security and members of the uniformed forces around the Chiadzwa restricted area at 9 am. Mutukare tried to run away but was overpowered by two dogs that bit him. He sustained serious deep cut wounds on his head and leg. CRD's report details a further eight violent incidents.

To date, seven companies operate in the Marange area namely Marange Resources, Ge Nyame, Anjin, Mbada, Zimbabwe Diamonds, Jinan, and Diamond Mining Company (DMC). These companies are either government owned or joint ventures between government entities and foreigners. CRD also noted that no known efforts have been made by government to grant a diamond mining concession to the local community in Marange.

CRD called on government to force mining companies to account for human rights incidents taking place in Marange and to immediately address security problems in the fields. 

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