Human Rights

Marange villager takes Gvt head on over military presence in diamond fields

TONDERAI SAHARO

A villager in the diamond rich Marange community has approached the High Court seeking an order to force the Government to withdraw the country’s security personnel from operating in and around the area as they violet their freedom of movement.

The villager, Jay Kasakara is imploring the court to lift an order which mandated the security forces to deploy in the Marange community since the operations are being carried out using taxpayer’s money on behalf of private companies that were not benefitting members of the public.

He is seeking the removal of restrictions imposed by the agents as they are violating his freedom of movement, enjoyment of property rights and that the protection order had served its purpose and the period of effect was long overdue.

The villager, said on 17 April 2022 early in the morning, he accompanied his young brother Blessing to a local clinic in Chiadzwa who was not feeling well.

Chiadzwa Health Centre is about 12 km from Makotamo Village where Jay and his brother live.

  Jay and his young brother had to board a min-bus at Chingome Business Centre around 8am to travel to the clinic.

 About 600 metres before their destination, near Musewe homestead, the minbus they were travelling in was stopped at a roadblock mounted by soldiers and police officers from the support unit.

He said officers ordered everyone from the vehicle to disembark and produce their national identity cards.

During that time, Kasakara said he observed that 4 diamond artisanal miners paid bribes to the police officers after failing to identify themselves.

The 4 were allowed to proceed with their journey.

Kasakara and his brother handed over their IDs and a written letter from their Headman to prove that there were inhabitants of Chiadzwa in Marange.

Their ID cards were rejected by the officers who allegedly demanded bribes instead.

He refused to pay the bribe before he was forcibly handcuffed on a small tree while his young brother Blessing Kasakara who was vomiting from suspected malaria was released and went to rest at Musewe’s house close by waiting for the release of his elder brother.

Kasakara said he had to spedt 2 and half hours handcuffed on a tree on the roadblock sideway before he was taken to Mashuga Shuga state security base where he was interrogated by members of the Central Investigation Department before he was set free.

In November last year he then filed a High court application against the state on the abuses committed.

Center for Research and Development in a statement said the militarisation of Marange diamonds fields in 2008 has camouflaged gruesome crimes on civilians such as assault, robbery, rape and murder by state security operatives and security personnel of mining companies.

“Despite the consolidation of diamond companies in 2015 the military has not withdrawn from Marange to allow mining entities to account for the security of the diamond fields.

“The continued presence of the military in Marange is infringing villagers’ to exercise their rights to freedom of movement, dignity and development,” reads part of the statement.

If granted, the order will stop law enforcement agents in Marange from interfering with citizens’ freedoms and movements in Marange diamond community.

“Government amended the Precious Stones Act Chapter 21:06 in 2017 to include rough diamonds in the definition of precious stones bringing to an end free for all mining, trading and dealing with diamonds from Chiadzwa by unlicensed persons.

“Therefore, the obligation to secure diamond mining areas must rest with mining companies as obtaining in diamond mining areas such as Murowa,” CRD said.

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