CRD Finds Secret Diamond Mining at Charleswood Estate

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RAPAPORT…  The Center for Research and Development (CRD) in Zimbabwe reported that a Russia-based company, DTZ/Ozego, was secretly mining diamonds at Charleswood Estate, a large commercial farm formerly owned by Roy Bennett, the Movement for Democratic Change’s (MDC-T) party treasurer and the former legislator for Chimanimani.

CRD claimed that the company was working in cooperation with senior officials of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party. The organization made a sight visit to the estate and stated in the report that it “can confirm that indeed, mining activities have been going on for a year now.” 

The company conducting mining at Charleswood, DTZ/Ozego, is managed by Alexander Gregory and good-quality diamonds are being recovered there, according to CRD. The diamond mining area, located approximately 15 miles (25 kilometers) from Chimanimani village, is well guarded by security forces. CRD also found that the local villagers were informed that the government intended to relocate them, although they did not receive further clarification regarding the prospective move, as well as other objectionable conditions.

“There is ill treatment of settlers and workers at the mine by the management,” the report noted. “Freedom of movement is infringed because people are not allowed to go and see their relatives or to buy maize. Alexander is said to be a rabid racist with an undying quest of abusing workers and trespassers. Many unconfirmed stories were told about him which, among others, include setting his dogs on workers and passersby. Soldiers have made the area impassable by beating up motorists who do not live in the area on the suspicion that they want to buy diamonds illegally. The soldiers have also been brutally assaulting villagers caught panning on the farm.”

The CRD cited six specific accounts of the beatings, threats, searches dog attacks and/or detentions allegedly conducted by the police, as well as  DTZ/Ozego’s Gregory, against citizens. Additional accounts of such abuses remain unconfirmed.

LH

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