Russians mining diamonds at Charleswood Estate
DTZ OZEGO, a Russian mining company, is secretly mining diamonds at Charleswood Estate, a large commercial farm formerly owned by the MDC Treasurer and former legislator for Chimanimani, Roy Bennett. The company is working in cahoots with senior ZANU PF officials who have kept a tight lead on the mining operations taking place on the farm. The Center for Research and Development made a sight visit of Charleswood Estate and can confirm that indeed mining activities have been going on for a year now. The farm is located 25 km from Chimanimani village.
The company is managed by one Alexander Gregory. The area is now highly protected by soldiers from all over the country. Policemen from Chipinge are amongst those who are guarding the area. Good quality diamond is being mined which is similar to the one in Chiadzwa. Meanwhile the CRD was informed by concerned villagers that they had been informed of the government intentions to relocate them. It is still unclear where the government intends to move the families to. Whilst the extend of the diamond deposits is not fully known, it is rumored that the deposits can stretch well beyond Charleswood Estate.
There is Ill-treatment of settlers and workers at the mine by the management. Freedom of movement is infringed because people are not allowed to go and see their relatives or to buy maize. Alexander is said to be a rabid racist with an undying quest of abusing workers and trespassers. Many unconfirmed stories were told about him which, among others, include setting his dogs on workers and passersby. Soldiers have made the area impassable by beating up motorists who do not live in the area on suspicion that they want to buy diamonds illegally. The soldiers have also been brutally assaulting villagers caught panning on the farm. Below are some of the cases recorded by the CRD.
Name of Victims of Charleswood Diamonds
- Name: Collen Sibanda
Residential Address: 72 Nyanga, Chimanimani District
Story: He was drinking alcohol on the 7th of February 2010 at Blue Moon Club. Four Russians who had dogs entered and asked him ‘silly’ questions. One dog jumped on his chest. He complained, but Alexander Gregory said he wanted his dog to taste black man’s blood.
- Name: Emanuel Manyande
Residential Address: 183 Gilson Street, Chimanimani District
Story: He went to Charleswood to buy honey. He was caught by police who accused him of panning for diamonds. He was threatened by police and detained for more than 7 hours.
- Name: Fidely Mutisi
Residential Address: 1058 Ngangu, Chimanimani District
Story: Fidely Mutisi is a bar man. Alexander Gregory and his friends demanded Fidely to play music of their choice. When Fidely delayed in taking their orders, Alexander shouted racist remarks and commanded his dog to bite Fidely four times.
- Name: Bvunzanai Chaonwa
ID: 44-003127 K 44
Residential Address: 819 Ngangu, Chimanimani District
Story: Bvunzanai Chaonwa pictured below drove to Charleswood in January 2010 to buy maize. Police stopped and searched his car. He was beaten by police and lost one of his front teeth.
- Name: Lovemore Mbiri
ID: 75-0880485 S 44
Residential Address: Chimanimani Medium Density
Story: In August 2009 Lovemore paid a visit to his uncle Mr. Mhlanga. He passed through Charleswood farm accompanied by Pardon Maguta. They were caught by 3 men who asked for their IDs and said it was a no go area. As Lovemore tried to explain the three men started beating them on their buttocks using button sticks and tree branches. They were detained for six hours. Both Lovemore and Pardon were severely injured on their buttocks.
- Name: Morgan Mucharira
Residential Address: 1312 Garikai St, Chimanimani
Story: He went to Charleswood to buy maize in October 2009. He was caught by 3 policemen who accused him for being a buyer. They kicked and beat him on his back. He suffered internal injuries on his back and waist. The three policemen continued beating him and one of them pulled off his dread locked hair injuring him in the process
New Diamond Discovery at Chikwizi Mountain
Diamonds were recently discovered at Chikwizi mountain in Chimanimani and panning is in progress. The mountain is located about 25 km from Chimanimani. Unlike the Chiadzwa alluvial diamonds, the Chikwizi diamonds are Kimberlitic, originating from ancient volcanic rocks at the top of Chikwizi mountain. Panners spend days and nights crushing the rocks in search of the precious stone. They use very primitive tools and may take long hours before coming across a diamond. This explains why there are few panners at Chikwizi.
Policemen sometimes come to the area to try to arrest the panners. But the panners keep on coming as soon as the Police leave the area. Some community members interviewed by the CRD said that the diamonds are of high quality. At present the mining of diamonds is chaotic and Chikwizi diamond is the latest example. KP standards are not being followed in the mining of diamonds in Zimbabwe.
Chiadzwa Update: Chinese Muscle In
The Chinese, long rumored to have an interest in Chiadzwa diamonds have finally been allocated a claim by the government of Zimbabwe. The Chinese have been allocated Chirasika area but have not yet started formal mining. The area is still tightly guarded by the Police. Of late Chirasika was one of the areas where diamond panning was flourishing through syndicates organized by the soldiers. A single soldier operated a syndicate ranging between 5 and 200 panners. About 25 soldiers were stationed at Chirasika. The CRD can reveal that soldiers have been withdrawn from the Chinese claim and a violent crackdown has been launched to drive out panners from the area.
*The CRD is registered as a Trust under the laws of Zimbabwe.
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