Mashurugwi must be arraigned together with their sponsors

Shongedzai Mugwagwa

The country is experiencing yet another form of terror unleashed by a group of marauders known as the “mashurungwi” who have disturbed the peace in the country and scaring away potential investors.

It’s a travesty that a peaceful loving country like Zimbabwe wakes up to a group of marauders unleashing violence in mining communities and seemingly being a law unto themselves with impunity. The brutal manner in which they terrorise other artisanal miners and ordinary citizens point to a group operating with a bravado that can only be derived from an assurance that nothing will be done to them.

Many have lost their beloved ones through this brutal group of the “mashurugwi”. Many are no longer safe in mining communities as these murders are also brutalising ordinary villagers surrounding mining areas.

Efforts made by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) to bring sanity and hold accountable this group of merciless criminals are starting to make tremendous positives as recently in Gokwe more than 40 were arrested at a police station where they wanted to run a police station down.

It is time authorities put a stop to this mindless terror and protect communities and artisanal miners most of whom are law abiding and contributing immensely to gold deliveries to Fidelity Printers and Refineries. The machete-wielding gangs have now become a clear and present danger to the security of this country because of their dastardly acts. 

In one of the inaugural meetings hosted by the Zimbabwe Miners’ Federation (ZMF) in Gweru in 2019 in which President Emmerson Mnangagwa addressed small scale miners; the President condemned violence and lawlessness among artisanal miners, saying perpetrators of mining-related crimes will face the full wrath of the law.

“We have heard through the media about the lawlessness from among artisanal miners, some invading other people’s mines while armed with machetes. We have said we don’t want this, anyone found in possession of these dangerous weapons should be arrested and jailed,” said President Mnangagwa. 

It is comforting to note that the ZRP has heeded the President’s call as they have descended on these machete-wielding gangs’ territory in a bid to bring sanity to mining communities.

However, some rogue elements continue to wreak havoc and yesterday there was a report of a whole family in Chegutu Constituency was mercilessly killed in cold blood and women being raped by a group of these criminals. As if it’s not in enough, in Gweru, mashurugwi marauders stormed a ZAOGA church and looted money, cell phones and destroyed property.

 In Inyathi, some went on a rampage attacking other miners leaving many severely injured. Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs Minister Richard Moyo blamed maShurugwi for terrorising people in his province. He said maShurugwi were killing people, raping women and slaughtering residents’ livestock while conducting illegal mining activities.

“Our people are living in fear because of the violent behaviour of the illegal gold miners who come from other districts. The guys who are called maShurugwi attack locals if they find them also mining for gold. They are always carrying axes and machetes. They are so daring that if the gold belt is stretching to people’s homesteads, these criminals violently force them out of their homes so that they can extract the minerals,” said Minister Moyo. 

“Fifty artisanal miners armed with machetes and axes went on a rampage, attacking other miners. Two male adults were severely assaulted and they sustained serious injuries. One resultantly died upon admission to Inyathi Hospital. The accused person, who informed other artisanal gold miners of his heinous deed, is still at large,” said a police spokesperson. 

People cannot be terrorised in their own homes by marauding gangs while relevant authorities turn a blind eye. 

If the police are failing to contain these gold wars, perhaps it is time they enlisted the services of the army to restore order. 

While this may be a step too far, it is something worth considering because of the gravity of the situation. There is a danger that our gold could be classified under blood minerals because of the activities of maShurugwi. 

Government, therefore, has a legitimate reason to stop their reign of terror by whatever means before it is too late. It is time for decisive action.

Like a veld fire, these machete wielding gangs have spread to almost every corner in the country as communities now live in absolute terror of these merciless gangs. The Police should bear in mind how the same matter as this spread in Somalia after it began as pockets of chaos confined to specific areas, but uncontrollably spun out of control and to date the country bears the brunt of conflict.

The ZRP should escalate their efforts to penetrate and disrupt these warlords and those who are sponsoring them. There should be no sacred cows in dealing with this scourge.