By Ishemunyoro Chingwere
Traditional leaders from Shurugwi are concerned with the labelling of their people as being behind the spate of killings and robberies in gold mining areas countrywide.
The chiefs said it was unfortunate that both mainstream and alternative media platforms and high-ranking officials were perpetuating the “MaShurugwi” label.
The “Mashurugwi” tag has become synonymous with violent machete-wielding gangs that terrorise gold panners, either to forcefully grab one’s gold or proceeds from a transaction or a gold-rich mine.
While there is a general agreement that the untoward behaviour started in Shurugwi, it has been adopted in almost all major mining areas and in some cases, towns and cities where the marauding machete-wielding youths intermittently invade beer drinking places.
Chief Banga, born Lameck Toindepi of Shurugwi, said that there was no empirical evidence supporting the claim that the machete attackers were from his district.
He warned people to stop the labelling, saying there was a serious risk that people from Shurugwi would be alienated.
“This is one issue which people must not joke with,” said Chief Banga.
“From the arrests that police have made, I have not heard of a situation where people from our district are dominating the statistics.
“In fact, to be quite frank, I am not aware of any of my subjects partaking in these criminal activities.
“The problem is that we have the media and even people in official positions referring to the criminals as “MaShurugwi”.
“The reality is that almost every other gold panner has, at one time or the other, worked in Shurugwi because of the vast gold deposits we have in our area.
“So, when they then go to other areas, they probably then claim to originate from Shurugwi.”
Chief Banga said it was increasingly difficult for his people to go to other parts of the country in search of business and employment opportunities.
Chief Ndanga, born Christmas Musavengana, said it was wrong to associate the people with the machete attackers.
He called on law enforcement agencies to descend heavily on the violent gangs and afford communities an opportunity to go about their economic activities unhindered.
Chief Ndanga said police in the Midlands Province assured him that the situation was under control.
“For starters, I think it is grossly unfair to refer to criminals of this nature by any geographical location,” said Chief Ndanga.
“It maligns the people of Shurugwi needlessly and it is my hope that people desist from this because even our consultations with the police show that these acts of violence were being committed by people from different parts of the country, not Shurugwi in particular.
“I am happy that the police have assured us that they have since moved into all hotspots and the peace that is synonymous with our country is back.”
Police statistics show that since March, 3 471 people have been arrested for possessing dangerous weapons such as machetes under an operation code named, “No to anarchy by artisanal miners”. The Herald