Gunfire as gold war turns ugly

Tendai Gukutikwa Post Correspondent
THREE people were shot and seriously wounded following an exchange of heavy gunfire in Odzi last Saturday as rival groups fought to control a lucrative gold mine in the area.

Detectives quickly descended on the volatile area and arrested three people in connection with the mayhem that rattled villagers in the area. Two of the suspects are facing three counts of attempted murder, while the owner of the mine at the centre of the dispute is facing two counts of robbery.

Wellington Mutezo (39) and Mutungamiri Mavhurere (38) of Kuwadzana and Chitungwiza respectively on Tuesday appeared before Mutare magistrate Ms Perseverance Makala facing attempted murder as defined in Section 189 as read with Section 47 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, Chapter 9:23.

Clifford Kowo (59), who owns Odzi 12 Gold Mine, also appeared before the same magistrate facing two counts of robbery stemming from the same incident. The shootout occurred after the suspects who were armed with rifles allegedly opened fire on 16 security guards from a rival company who had visited the mine with the intention of taking over operations.

Prosecutor Mr Fletcher Karombe said: “On the day in question, Edmore Majokoto and 15 other security guards proceeded to Odzi 12 Gold Mine owned by Clifford Kowo. They were armed with .303 rifles loaded with two rounds of ammunition each and a Berreta pistol.

“Majokoto and his team approached the accused persons with the intention of taking over the gold mine. However, the suspects resisted, prompting the 16 security guards to open fire on them.” The accused persons returned fire and in the process shot and injured Albert Kurwa, Talkmore Tarwirei and Cephas Ngorima.

The injured were later rushed to Mutare Provincial Hospital for treatment.  They were not asked to plead to the charges and were granted $50 bail each.

As part of their bail conditions they were also to reside at their given addresses, not to interfere with State witnesses and report at their nearest police station once every fortnight on Fridays. The matter was adjourned to October 3.

Kowo, who is embroiled in a mine dispute with Innocent Chiadzwa and Terrence Machemedze, is alleged to have connived with three other suspects who are still on the run to assault and rob the pair.

He allegedly fired two shots in the air, grabbed Chiadzwa and Machemedze and shoved them into his vehicle. He then drove to Odzi 12Gold Mine where he assaulted both men.

Kowo was  granted $50 bail and the same bail conditions that were given to Mutezo and Mavhurere.