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‘Killer’ gold panners granted bail

By Mashudu Netsianda

Three of the 11 illegal gold panners who allegedly ganged up and killed a rival in a mine claim conflict in Vhovha area of Colleen Bawn in Gwanda, have been granted $100 bail each pending trial by the High Court.

Justice Martin Makonese inspects a quarter guard before opening the Hwange High Court Circuit in Hwange
Justice Martin Makonese inspects a quarter guard before opening the Hwange High Court Circuit in Hwange

The gang, whose members come from Mberengwa, Masvingo, Gokwe and Gwanda, were armed with logs, machetes, axes and stones when they attacked Ndodana Ncube at Mascot Mine last month.

Tererai Guri (32), Joseph Chuma (31) and Tinashe Muengedzwo (28), through their lawyers Mlweli Ndlovu and Associates, filed an application at the Bulawayo High Court citing the State as the respondent.

Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Martin Makonese granted the trio bail pending trial. They were ordered not to interfere with State witnesses and to reside at their given addresses as part of the bail conditions.

Guri, Chuma and Muengedzwo together with seven others have since appeared before Gwanda provincial magistrate, Mr Maphios Ncube, facing murder charges and they were remanded in custody.

In their grounds of appeal, the three men said there were no compelling reasons justifying their continued detention pending trial, arguing that there was no evidence upon which a belief may be formulated that they are a flight risk.

They further argued that if granted bail there was no likelihood of interfering with witnesses.

“It is submitted that the applicants have on a balance of probabilities demonstrated that they are suitable candidates for bail pending trial and therefore pray for an order in terms of the draft,” said the applicants.

Appearing for the State, Mr Trust Muduma opposed the application, arguing that there was a strong prima facie case against the applicants. He said the three men were observed by State witnesses assaulting the deceased.

Mr Muduma said there was no guarantee that if granted bail, the trio would not abscond given the gravity and seriousness of the charge that they are facing.

“It is submitted that it will not be in the interest of justice to free the applicant on bail pending trial given that his defence is just a bare denial of the allegations. Wherefore the respondent prays for the bail pending trial to be dismissed,” he said.

According to court papers, the gang attacked Ncube on October 8 at around 8AM. The three men and their accomplices who are all illegal gold panners at Vhovha Mine teamed up and went to Mascot Mine while armed with logs, machetes, axes and stones in search of Ncube and his workmates over an outstanding tribal conflict.

Upon arrival at Mascot Mine, the gang didn’t find anyone as Ncube and his workmates had fled into the bushes. The gang pursued Ncube and his workmates and attacked him with the weapons and he died on the spot. The matter was reported to the police who carried out investigations leading to the arrest of the 11 men.

The gang also left several of Ncube’s workmates severely injured during the attack. Two of the victims were admitted to the Gwanda Provincial Hospital. The Chronicle