TWENTY-EIGHT Chiadzwa villagers were on Thursday 4 November 2021 released from prison custody after they were arrested by Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers for allegedly protesting against Chinese diamond miner, Anjin Investments.
The 28 Chiadzwa villagers, who included Robert Chiadzwa, a 90 year-old Headman, were arrested on Wednesday 3 November 2021 and charged with public violence as defined in Section 36 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
Prosecutors told Magistrate Langton Mukwengi that Newman Chiadzwa aged 66 years, Headman Chiadzwa aged 90 years and Shadreck Chipise aged 61 years organised an unsanctioned demonstration at Anjin Investments’ new processing plant in the diamond fields of Chiadzwa, in which the villagers participated.
The villagers’ gripe with Anjin Investments emanated from the diamond miner’s decision to have Chief Marange instead of Headman Chiadzwa preside over rituals conducted to allow it to resume mining operations in Chiadzwa.
Things heated up after Anjin Investments failed to turn up for a meeting scheduled for 2 November 2021 at Headman Chiadzwa’s homestead of which the diamond miner had agreed to attend so as to iron out some grievances which the villagers had.
This, prosecuted alleged, prompted the villagers to force their way into Anjin Investments’ new processing plant and barricaded all roads leading to the plant with stones.
Prosecutors alleged that Newman Chiadzwa, Headman Chiadzwa and Chipise ordered all Anjin Investments employees to shut down operations while the other villagers were carrying placards denouncing the diamond miner.
Besides the three, the other villagers include Mathew Mundondo aged 38 years, Jey Kasakara aged 29 years, Onias Chiadzwa aged 53 years, William Nhunduro aged 55 years, Josphat Makaza aged 37 years, Mirirai Chiadzwa aged 46 years, Onai Marange aged 40 years, Irene Sithole aged 48 years, Trymore Mangwiro aged 35 years, Tinashe Zvinodavanhu aged 47 years, Pendai Makota aged 62 years, Augastine Majaha aged 48 years, Mika Sanyerwa aged 44 years, John Chibiya aged 49 years, Gumisai Mugomo aged 34 years, Rombe Engai aged 60 years, Justin Chiadzwa aged 75 years, Beaulla Mawoyo aged 69 years, Rosemary Chiadzwa aged 48 years, Howard Taremeredzwa aged 54 years, Jacob Kazambara aged 41 years, Gilbert Chiadzwa aged 41 years, Bonnie Mujoma aged 74 years, Munyaradzi Chenjerai aged 38 years and Hudson Chiadzwa aged 67 years.
The villagers reportedly held placards which read “Anjin you destroyed livestock”, “Your consultation action was not done properly”, “Anjin you destroyed our dams and rivers, arable land, grazing and pastures”, “Anjin you lied to Chiadzwa community”, “Anjin our livelihoods we want compensation”, “Col Esau don’t mislead Anjin about Chiyadzwa rituals stay at barracks”; “Marange your foot into Chiyadzwa territory at your own risk bvunza Gilbert”.
The Chiadzwa villagers, prosecutors said, destroyed clay pots containing traditional beer on 28 October 2021 as they protested against being side lined in the rituals process and reportedly demanded that 10 percent of Anjin Investments employees should be from
the local community and also complained about the ill-treatment of workers by some Chinese nationals.
The Chiadzwa villagers allegedly assaulted some Chinese nationals for refusing to obey their orders to stop all operations at the diamond plant although they did not sustain serious injuries.
On Thursday 4 November 2021, Magistrate Mukwengi released the 28 villagers from prison custody after ordering them to pay ZWL3 000 each as bail money and not to be within a 100 metre radius from Anjin Investments premises, not to interfere with witnesses and to continue residing at their given residential addresses.
The 28 villagers, who were represented by Cosmos Chibaya, Peggy Tavagadza and Moses Chikomo of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and Passmore Nyakureba and Blessward Mungure of Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association, return to court on 22 November 2021.