3 Killed as Gwejas Invade Mbada Diamond Fields
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The High Court has ordered the Zimbabwe Defence Forces to leave the Marange diamond fields amid reports of gross human rights violations, including the murder by the security forces of at least three illegal miners known as gwejas at the weekend.
The army and riot police were deployed to Chiadzwa last week to eject thousands of illegal miners who have taken over vast tracts of Mbada Diamonds’ claims. The invasion started after government cancelled the licences of Chinese Red Army firms operating in the area and barred them from entering the mine premises. The Chinese then deployed bands of illegal diamond hunters to go in and loot gemstones in areas known to have rich deposits. Corrupt army and police are pocketing bribes from the racket and have set up their own syndicates to go in and get the diamonds, leading to the deadly clashes.
Chinese diamond buyers have flooded the Mozambican town of Chipunga Bera, just acroos the border from where they buy diamonds and co-ordinate operations of the gwejas they control, including those attached to army and police units.
Lawyers made an urgent application Monday for the army to be removed to pave way for private security firms.
Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe has fallen out with the Chinese after it emerged they were backing his arch-rival Emmerson Mnangagwa to succeed him as president. Mugabe wants his wife Grace Mugabe to take over from him.
Last week, mines and mining development minister Walter Chidhakwa said the army deployment was necessary to secure Zimbabwe’s position as a Kimberly Process Certification System member.
“We cannot allow a situation of chaos,” Chidhakwa said. “Our status at KPCS is renowned.”
Police confirmed the arrest of more than 70 illegal miners by the weekend.
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