By Mashudu Netsianda
Gold dealer Baron Dube who allegedly shot and killed a member of a rival mining gang in the area last year following a dispute, has appeared in court in a case that opens the lid on looting and the reign of terror in Esigodini.
Dube (44) of Habane Extension suburb appeared before Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Maxwell Takuva on Tuesday facing murder charges in connection with the death of Prince Antony Bvundura (22).
Dube, who is out on $2 000 bail, allegedly fatally shot Bvundura in September last year in the heat of a fight over a mining claim at Block 13 Atlas Mine in Esigodini.
He allegedly used a Voere 458 calibre rifle.
The shooting happened at a mine belonging to Mr Tendai Musanangura which Dube said he has mining rights and authority granted by the owner to occupy it. However, when Mr Musanangura took to the witness stand, he denied giving Dube permission to enter his mining area.
“As the owner of the mine I never employed or entered into any form of agreement with the accused person to oversee mining activities at the mine. The only people who I have entrusted with the operations of the mine are Messrs Jimmy Muzamba and Admire Moyo and they are responsible for the employment and welfare of workers as well as overseeing mining activities,” he said.
Another key State witness, Mr Mkhululi Sibanda said on the fateful day they were conducting mining activities together with the deceased and other colleagues under the instruction of Mr Musanangura when Dube arrived at the mine in his Toyota Land cruiser.
“The accused person arrived at the mine and arranged a gang of about 20 people with the intention of dispersing the deceased and other artisanal miners so that they would forcefully take over the mine. At about 11PM, the accused person armed himself with two guns while his accomplices were armed with machetes, axes, shovels and picks,” he said.
Mr Sibanda told the court that Dube and his hired thugs chased away everyone at the mine, claiming the area was his.
He said the deceased who was part of the people working at the mine was shot while trying to flee from Dube and his gang.
“The deceased was shot on the left biceps and the bullet pierced through into the heart resulting in him staggering for a distance of about 20 metres before he collapsed and died,” said Mr Sibanda.
Ten more witnesses, including ballistics experts, are expected to give evidence when the trial resumes next year during the course of the first term of the High Court.
Dube, through his lawyers Mutendi, Mudisi and Shumba Legal Practitioners, is denying the charge, arguing that the firearm accidentally discharged after he stepped on a rock and fell down while fleeing from the mob, which was throwing stones at him.
The prosecutor Mrs Sifiso Ndlovu-Sibanda said on September 26 last year, the deceased went to work at Block 13 Atlas Mine in Esigodini in the company of his workmates. On the same day, Dube arranged a gang of about 20 people so that they could disperse everyone and take over the mine where there was a gold rush.
“At about 11PM, the accused person armed himself with two guns and his accomplices were carrying machetes, axes, shovels and picks. The accused drove to the mine using his Toyota Land cruiser carrying his gang,” she said.
The court heard that on arrival at the mine, Dube chased away all miners, claiming he had been granted authority to operate at the mine by the owner. The deceased, who was part of a group of miners fleeing during the skirmishes, was shot and he died on the spot.
According to the post mortem results the cause of death was gunshot wound, heart destruction and hypovolemic shock. The Chronicle