By Peter Matika
The woman embroiled in a mine wrangle, which saw her being allegedly extorted of US$12 000 by a Zanu-PF youth member in Bulawayo has revealed that she had initially been told to pay US$15 000, amid reports that the mine has been overrun by illegal miners.
Mrs Priscilla Ncube who owns Tobo Mining Syndicate in Shangani, has since engaged a legal firm, which has filed an urgent High Court application seeking to bar any mining activity without her consent and also to evict illegal miners that have invaded the mine.
Mrs Priscilla Ncube (61) who is widowed, told Sunday News in an interview that she had lived at the mine for almost 25 years and had invested a lifetime fortune in developing the mine.
“I have invested more than US$100 000 to develop this mine and I cannot let bogus individuals take my source of livelihood. We bought the mine in 1994; it was pegged in 1992 from a man called Afriki Sibanda.
“The mine is called Tobo Mining Syndicate and we have been there for the past 25 years. All my paperwork is in order and is up- to-date with all regulations of the mining industry. All our returns are up-to-date and anyone can check that with Fidelity Printers,” she said.
Mrs Ncube said it took 10 years to develop the mine and has even built a house in the area.
“We built a house at the mine and that is the only home we know. The house has nine rooms and we have lived there since,” she said.
Mrs Ncube said trouble started in 2001, after the death of her husband, when a farmer, whom she identified as David Sibanda, asked to join the mining syndicate.
“. . . It was after sometime that he became vindictive and started claiming that the mining rights belonged to him. He alleged that our mine was on his land and that it belonged to his family. We went back and forth on the issue until we went for a hearing at the Ministry of Mines (and Mining Development). That was when these boys (fake CIOs) came into the picture,” said Mrs Ncube.
“They approached me this year lying saying they had been sent by President Mnangagwa to inform me that he was taking over the mine. That was on 5 March this year. On 24 March that is when I was approached by Mushando (Blessing), perhaps working in cahoots with those other men, saying that the President wanted to take over the mine but he was in a position to convince the President not to take over the mine if I paid,” said Mrs Ncube.
She said Mushando in the beginning was polite but later turned aggressive.
“At first he was polite and we actually thought he was genuine. He then later became aggressive and that is when I paid him the money he demanded. All the work and effort I have put into that mine, a place I call my home, a place where my children grew up is gone. It has been taken by evil men. My life and that of my children is at risk and I have nowhere else to stay,” said Mrs Ncube.
She appealed to the Government to urgently look into the matter and resolve the issue.
“I pray that the ministry (of Mines and Mining Development) hears my plea, even the President himself. I am but a humble Zimbabwean trying to make ends meet. The people that had been employed and also made a home at the mine have nowhere to go or any jobs,” she said.
A number of people have since been arrested for making false claims that they were sent by the President, or working for any Government entity like the CIOs. Sunday News