Armed robbers raid Chiadzwa diamond fields

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Tinashe Makichi/Taurai Mangudhla

The Joint Operations Command is investigating a case where armed robbers suspected to be comprised of artisanal miners and security details is said to have stolen an undisclosed amount of diamond ore from the Chiadzwa fields in Marange on Sunday.

Although the destination and the exact quantity of the ore could not be ascertained at the time of going to print due to lack of cooperation and largely fear by close sources, Business Times is informed that the ore left the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company
(ZCDC) mining area late Sunday night after having been loaded in trucks by the armed robbers.

The operation, top officials at ZCDC said, was headed by illegal diamond miners commonly known as “magweja” who were under the protection of suspected army and police officers.

“We had an invasion from suspected police and army officers accompanying the gwejas who breached the security and stole diamond ore. The team was heavily armed and they got away with the ore in sacks. It is becoming a common thing at Chiadzwa,” said a close source privy to all security and production details.

Another source said Mines and Mining Development minister Winston Chitando spent the greater part of yesterday with ZCDC executives including CEO Moris Mpofu trying to investigating the loss.

Chitando confirmed the incident to Business Times last night although he could not be drawn to give specific details.

“We are going to issue a statement,”’ Chitando said before he hung up. It is now understood that JOC is handling the investigations.

Mpofu could not be drawn to comment, referring all questions to the Chitando.

“Once the issue has escalated to that level then it is in the right hands, talk to the Minister,” Mpofu said.

Information gathered from close sources is that the development came barely two months after an almost similar occurrence.

Despite the incident of earlier this year, no security upgrades were made.

Questions also emerged how the gang of thugs knew about exact location of the mined ore and when it was convenient to raid. As a result, some officials believe it was an inside job.

“The same thing happened almost two months ago, and no changes were done to the security. How did they know where the ore was and how come no one was arrested?,” said the top source.

Army spokesperson Overson Mugwisi yesterday said his office was yet to receive such a report.

“If there was enough time I could have checked for you with Manicaland, but it’s now late,” Mugwisi said.

Police spokesperson Andrew Nyathi’s mobile went unanswered.