By Richard Muponde
Esigodini gold baron, Mr Baron Dube, has opened up on how he was nearly killed a day before his nephew, who was believed to be the ring leader of a gang of gold panners, died in bloody clashes with a rival group in Filabusi.
Qalisani Moyo, popularly known as “Friday” of Sanale area in Filabusi, was axed to death after his right foot was chopped off in a fight over a gold claim at HeyHill Farm on Monday night.
Mr Dube yesterday said the late Moyo was his nephew, and on the day his relative died, they were supposed to travel together to the claim, but he later decided against going there.
He said Moyo died for no apparent reason.
No arrests have been made so far following the murder.
The gold baron said on Sunday he nearly died as over 400 gold panners armed with machetes and axes cornered him, but they retreated after he drew his pistol.
He said on Monday, Moyo and 14 others went to the gold claim, not to fight but for talks with a rival group at the instigation of the police.
Mr Dube said a Sergeant Mapfumo from Filabusi Police Station phoned him to come to the gold claim to solve the dispute with community leaders and panners who were mining at his claim, but he sent his nephew with his group.
“We were at Filabusi Business Centre where we had slept with my boys on Sunday. Initially I had met Madam Sibanda, an assistant inspector, together with one Hussein who is leading the group of community members mining there.
“He came in the company of Spare Sithole (Filabusi businessman). Hussein agreed in front of the police that they only hold a prospecting licence and I produced all my papers to the claim. Hussein then asked me to allow them to continue mining on the condition that they woud give me a certain percentage and we agreed,” he said.
Mr Dube said they went to the Officer-in-Charge at Filabusi Police Station and asked for police officers to accompany them to the gold claim, but the police said they had no vehicle.
“I offered him (OIC) my car but he said they don’t board civilian vehicles. He verified with CID Minerals, Gwanda, and was advised that these people had no papers but had agreed to work with Baron. After that some of the police officers were dispatched in a councillor’s vehicle and went down to the claim,” he said.
Mr Dube said after sometime he was phoned by Sgt Mapfumo at around 4PM and told to come to the gold claim for dialogue.
“I dispatched my 15 boys in two trucks to meet Sgt Mapfumo and his entourage. The officers were in constant communication with my employee, Shepherd Sibanda. My boys arrived at Leonard Ndlovu’s Stamp Mill where my ore from the claim was being milled. They were told the police went to the claim and they followed. That’s when they got into the crossfire, leading to the death of my nephew,” he said.
Mr Dube said he never incited violence but some people (names supplied) who were once his security guards at the claim mobilised over 400 gold panners against him.
“On Sunday when we were at Filabusi centre they made several trips ferrying panners to the centre in eight Toyota Granvias they bought with proceeds from mining at the claim. They surrounded us armed with machetes, axes, stones and picks with some panners from Gwanda shouting ‘abatshe’ while advancing towards my Land Cruiser. I then drew my pistol and put it in my pocket and they retreated and confronted Cele,” he said.
Mr Dube said he had reported a case of theft of gold ore against some people (names supplied).
Matabeleland South Police spokesperson Inspector Philisani Ndebele yesterday confirmed that the police engaged the two parties and agreed to accompany them to the claim.
“We talked to them but unfortunately there were no vehicles to accompany them. Baron was advised that the police would go the following day.
Instead of waiting, he mobilised his gold panners and went to the gold claim and attacked the other group which was mining there. If there’s a mine dispute it’s the responsibility of people from the Minerals Unit to preside over it. People shouldn’t take the law into their own hands but allow authorities to deal with these issues,” said Insp Sibanda.
He said police acted in a proper manner by refusing to travel in a vehicle of someone involved in a dispute they sought to resolve. The Chronicle