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Scott Sakupwanya performs rituals at his mine amid more deaths

After recording massive deaths at his Redwing gold mine in Penhalonga, Manicaland province, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ally Scott Sakupwanya on Sunday conducted a ritual ceremony to cleanse the mine as his company, Better Brands was set to resume operations.

According to the NewsDay, rituals were done ostensibly to appease the spirits of several artisanal miners who perished at the mine.

Mining at the site had been halted a few months ago by the Environmental Management Agency following reports of illegal mining practices.

It is further reported that a truckload of traditional beer, brewed two weeks ago, was consumed at the ceremony where a catering service company was hired to feed hundreds of people who attended the event, among them traditional leaders, Zanu-PF bigwigs and artisanal miners.

Controversial gold dealer Pedzisayi "Scott" Sakupwanya
Controversial gold dealer Pedzisayi “Scott” Sakupwanya
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Mutasa South legislator Misheck Mugadza confirmed that he was part of the gathering. He said they were cleansing the area because of the deaths that were happening.

“Yes, we had a traditional ceremony for various reasons. There were traditional leaders and we were also celebrating the coming in of a new chief, (but) we were cleansing the area because of the deaths that have been recorded at the mine.

“It’s obvious that the company financed the ceremony because they are the ones who are operating at the mine,” he said.

Penhalonga Youth Development Trust director Clinton Masanga explained how Better Brands conducted the rituals.

“It was a traditional and ritual ceremony done at once. Traditional snuff and some grains of rice were thrown in the claims where some artisanal miners reportedly died,” Masanga said.

“The fact that they did the traditional ceremony or rituals is clear indication that they are aware of the deaths that have occurred at the mine.”

Masanga, however, said it was difficult to determine whether Redwing Mine had satisfied the safety demands made by Ema.

“However, it is important to note that traditional ceremonies and mining operations should not compromise safety measures and environmental regulations.

“The poor management of the mine by Better Brands Mining Company is a cause for concern and it is essential that the company improves (workers’ safety at the mine),” he said.

Masanga added: “If the traditional ceremony is conducted (and the mining company) violates the restrictions set by Ema, it could potentially lead to negative consequences such as harm to the environment or danger to the workers.”

Centre for Research and Development director James Mupfumi said conducting a traditional ceremony was not enough to guarantee miners’ safety.

“I think the company was seeking to address the issue of mine deaths which have not stopped even after the company was closed,” he said.