Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Correspondent
ABOUT 20 gold panners have been arrested in Inyathi following violent clashes involving rival gangs.
Clashes at Senco Night Club, Mahamba Business Centre at about 11PM on Saturday saw some patrons being attacked with machetes, knives and stones.
Bubi District Rural Council chief executive officer Mr Partson Mlilo said on Wednesday police raided the illegal panners and arrested 20 people.
He said council offered the police council vehicles to transport the illegal miners after raiding them.
“The police are doing the best they can. Some of the culprits have been arrested. I think 20 of them were arrested today (Wednesday). The challenge faced by police is that these people don’t have any identification particulars and are of no fixed abode. They live in the bush,” said Mr Mlilo.
Yesterday, Chief Mtshane said the local leadership was not happy with rising attacks on ordinary people by the illegal miners.
He said he was mobilising the local leadership for a meeting with the police over the issue.
The Chief said last Friday’s attacks were carried out by people who do not come from Inyathi.
Chief Mtshane said omakorokoza invading the area should respect the local people’s hospitality.
“Villagers are now living in fear of being attacked. The attacks violate their freedom of association. People should move freely without being intimidated.
We don’t expect people in rural areas to be attacked, they should enjoy their freedoms,” he said.
Inyathi villagers told The Chronicle on Wednesday that some of the troublemakers were gold panners coming from disused mines such as Durban, Queens and Clayton located in Bubi District.
An employee at Senco Night Club said attacks at his workplace last Friday in which some ordinary people were injured were due to grudges emanating from the illegal gold fields.
“Because of the rains, omakorokoza can no longer stay in the bush. They come here with their grudges and start fighting in bars. That is what happened last Friday, we were enjoying ourselves until they started causing problems attacking people indiscriminately,” said Mr Nyoni who has worked at Senco Night Club for the past seven years.
In a statement yesterday, National police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba, said last Friday’s attacks in Inyathi were not gold related.
“Please be advised that our records of the assaults that occurred at Senco Night Club, Inyathi, on 13th January 2017 are not linked to gold panning,” said Snr Asst Comm Charamba.
She said according to the police, the incident occurred after three unknown patrons who were drinking in the company of a female imbiber started fighting among themselves.
“A misunderstanding arose among the accused persons after one of them poured beer on his colleague. A brawl ensued between the accused persons.
Martin Khabo and Daniel Lambani tried to break the fight,” Snr Asst Comm Charamba said.
She said the two people who were fighting then stopped fighting and turned on the peace makers Mr Khabo and Mr Lambadi.
“Realising that the two complainants were being attacked, three male adults went to their rescue and tried to restrain the three accused persons but they were also attacked.
“All the five complainants in the matter sustained varying degrees of injuries and were referred to Inyathi District Hospital for treatment and have since been discharged except Martin Khabo who was referred to Mpilo Hospital for further treatment,” Snr Asst Comm Charamba said.
Asked about the alleged arrest of 20 gold panners on Wednesday, Snr Asst Comm Charamba: “This could be different circumstances but I will find out.
However, I am aware of the gold problems in the area.”
Article Source: The Chronicle