By Patrick Chitumba
Six Zvishavane gold panners have been sentenced to a combined 106 years in prison for fatally striking a man with a log in a rampage after one of them was assaulted by residents for attempted robbery.
Andrew Sibanda (19), Tawanda Shumba (21), Pardon Ndlovu (23), Noel Zhou (18), Innocent Malunga and Reason Ndlovu, both 24, appeared before Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Nokuthula Moyo facing murder charges.
Sibanda, Shumba, Ndlovu, Zhou, Malunga and Reason were convicted of murder with constructive intent.
Justice Moyo sitting at the Gweru High Court Circuit yesterday sentenced Sibanda to 16 years taking into account that he had stayed in remand prison for one and half years awaiting trial.
Justice Moyo sentenced Shumba, Ndlovu, Zhou, Malunga and Reason, who were arrested later to 18 years in prison. In her judgment, Justice Moyo said there was a surge in violent murders perpetrated by gold panners in the country.
“The six accused have been convicted of murder with constructive intent. On the day in question they set on a revenge mission to assault the so-called Kadoma gold panner’s gang over gold ore.
The deceased was caught in the mayhem; the deceased was an innocent man and had no business in gold mining. There is an increase in violent deaths perpetrated by gold panners and courts frown at such barbaric crime,” she said.
The judge said gold panners were notorious for carrying dangerous weapons which they use to assault or kill each other.
Justice Moyo said in as much as there were illegal vendors causing a menace in city centres, society had never heard of them murdering each other as gold panners were doing.
“Bullying and theft is rife in gold mining and it is driven by greed and a strong message must be sent to the gold miners that the law will catch them. Accused 2 to 6 are sentenced to 18 years and accused one is sentenced to 16 years because he has already spent 18 months incarcerated awaiting trial,” she said.
It was the state case that Shumba was beaten up by residents after a failed robbery in a Mandava suburb.
When his friends heard about the assault, they went on a rampage assaulting anyone they met in retaliation.
The assault resulted in one resident, Mr Jabulani Aaron seeking refuge at the now deceased Mr Edmore Maphosa (46)’s house.
Sibanda, Shumba, Ndlovu, Zhou, Malunga and Reason followed Mr Aaron and stabbed him on the back three times.
When Mr Maphosa started assisting the stabbed man, he was fatally struck with a log on the head.
Mr Tafadzwa Mupariwa appeared for the state. The Chronicle