RAPAPORT… Residents and artisanal miners in Zimbabwe’s Marange region are still experiencing human rights abuses at the hands of security personnel employed at the diamond mines in the area, a recent report charged.
The report, compiled by the Centre for Research and Development (CRD), highlighted 11 recent encounters between security and local residents between February and March 2013. These encounters resulted in dog attacks, beatings and one shooting incident that resulted in the death of Herbert Manhanga. The full report can be read here.
Manhanga was shot on March 6 by security guards in an area outside of Marange Resources, where he died after sustaining two bullets to his head. Family members told CRD that they have since received no assistance from Marange Resources and that no further investigation had been conducted into his death as he was shot in a ”protected area.”
CRD subsequently battled to obtain a response from Marange Resources regarding the incident. “Efforts by the executive officer’s personal assistant Ms. Dhlwayo to grant CRD audience with the chief executive officer were rendered fruitless as the executive officer could be heard over the phone instructing her to direct us to phone the mine’s switchboard despite his earlier promises to speak to us,” CRD stated in the report.
CRD noted other incidents of abuse, including an attack on 25-year-old Tariro Saungweme from Mutare, who was caught panning for diamonds in the Marange Resources mining area with a syndicate of four people. He was immediately arrested after intense and heavy beating during which sustained a deep cut on his forehead. Dogs were set loose to attack the others in the syndicate.
The following day, 27-year-old Netsai Nechipote, who was panning with a syndicate of six others, was caught by guards in the mining area operated by Mbada Diamonds, the report contended. The guards ordered all seven to the ground; however, six of the panners fled, leaving Nechipote alone with the guards. She was severely beaten and taken to the guard room additional beating, according to CRD. She was released the following morning, driven to and dumped close to the Odzi River by Mbada’s guards. A local businesswoman covered Nechipote’s travel fees to return home and her condition remained unknown, CRD reported.
Another encounter with guards involved John Mutakura, a 34 year old from Zimuto Camp of Masvingo. He was on his way to fetch water and relish for a meal when he met with National Eye Security and members of the uniformed forces around the restricted Chiadzwa area one day at 9 a.m. Mutukare tried to flee but he was overpowered by two dogs that attacked him. He sustained serious deep cuts on his head and legs, according to CRD’s report, which details another eight such violent incidents.
To date, seven companies operate in the Marange area, namely Marange Resources, Ge Nyame, Anjin, Mbada Diamonds, Zimbabwe Diamonds, Jinan and the Diamond Mining Company (DMC). These companies are either government owned or joint ventures between the government and foreigners. CRD also noted that no known efforts had been made by the government to grant a diamond mining concession to the local community in Marange.
CRD called upon the government to force mining companies to account for human rights incidents taking place in Marange and to immediately address security problems in the diamond fields.