Matopo mine dispute sucks in Bulawayo’s top cop, Zanu PF

BULAWAYO – A common assault report filed at a police station in Bulawayo has triggered an official complaint against the province’s top cop, and left Zanu PF facing accusations of the attempted abduction of one of the complainants.

The fallout has lifted the lid on a bubbling dispute over a Matabeleland South Mine between 20-year army veteran Stanley Ndlovu and ex-cop Brian Samuriwo, now mired in party politics and influence peddling.

When two men walked into Bulawayo Central Police Station on February 26 to report that they had been assaulted at a popular braai spot in Luveve, both Ndlovu’s employees, officers thought they were dealing with a routine case – one of more than a dozen they handle daily.

Everything changed, however, when Samuriwo, the man who had just been accused of assault, turned up at a police station in Luveve.

His account of what transpired was diametrically opposite, and he wanted the two men – Mandlenkosi Moyo, 46, from Sunninghill and Nkosikhona Neta, 32, from Nketa – charged with attempted murder instead, alleging that he had been hit on the back of the head with an unknown object, kicked on the ribs while he lay on the ground and stabbed on his ring finger with a knife.

In case anyone doubted his account, or was unwilling to progress his matter at the station, Samuriwo whipped out his phone and made a call.

Once connected, he put his phone on loudspeaker and on the other end came the voice of Bulawayo’s top cop Commissioner Patson Nyabadza who was allegedly heard assuring Samuriwo that “the police would not arrest him” over the earlier complaint at the city’s main police station.

From then on, says a complaint by lawyers for Moyo and Neta sent to Police General Headquarters, Samuriwo began directing the investigating officer “on how he should handle the matter.”

Samuriwo allegedly boasted to the police officers that he was “in control of the police province as he trained with the ‘Propol’ (provincial police chief Nyabadza) at the police school since he is an ex-member of the force.”

In a March 8 letter to police Commissioner General Godwin Matanga, seen by reporters, lawyer Nqobani Sithole accuses Nyabadza of “conduct, that if true, amounts to abuse of office.”

When a decision was made to charge Neta and Moyo instead, Sithole alleges that police ignored a key piece of evidence from witness Jabulani Nyoni, who said the men had engaged in a fist fight which Samuriwo lost.

This evidence only turned up during the bail hearing, leading to the release of the duo when their trial lawyer Tinashe Dzipe argued that the proper charge should be “disorderly conduct in a public place.”

“Withholding critical information is criminal abuse of office,” said Sithole in his letter to Matanga.

After recording statements from Moyo and Neta, police had let the duo go – but they were apprehended after being hunted down by a Zanu PF mob, Sithole says in a second letter dated March 9 to Zanu PF’s Bulawayo chairman, Jabulani Sibanda.

Samuriwo, described by Sithole as a “senior member of Zanu PF in Bulawayo” and aspiring candidate for Luveve parliamentary constituency, is accused of mobilising the mob led by one Hardlife Ndlovu and including activists Emmanuel Sunduza, Washington Nkomo and Mabutho Moyo to help him locate Moyo and Neta.

The Zanu PF activists allegedly drove to Moyo’s Sunninghill home in branded party vehicles and scaled a wall before accosting his family demanding to know his whereabouts.

They later located the pair in town and handed them over to police.

Sithole wrote to Sibanda: “The police have a constitutional duty to maintain law and order in Zimbabwe, including investigating crime and arresting suspects.

“The conduct of Hardlife Ndlovu and others, abusing party vehicles and purporting to be investigating a crime, which the police were seized with was tantamount to usurping the duties of the police.”

Sithole said his clients were “worried about the brazen abuse of Zanu PF’s name to perpetuate illegalities” and urged Sibanda to investigate the matter and take appropriate action.

The events that played out at koChigumira in Luveve on February 26 had their genesis in a mine dispute in Matopo, Matabeleland South, where Ndlovu alleges a plot by Samuriwo to force himself into his patch of Amazon Mine, which has four subdivisions.

Ndlovu previously invited Samuriwo to partner at his Indlovu Mine, also in Matopo, before a fallout.

Samuriwo then joined Ndlovu in a new syndicate at Amazon Mine with partners Andrew Kapara and Obert Mpofu (not to be mistaken with former minister).

Ndlovu’s section of the 200-hectare mine became the most productive, according to Sithole, and now Samuriwo is allegedly trying to elbow in.

Sithole told The Standard: “The special grant for Amazon Mine expired in 2021, effectively collapsing the syndicate.

“The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority then decreed that all mining rights grants in the area should now be limited to 50 hectares per person, and my client has obtained necessary approvals from the ministry of Environment and from EMA and has sent his drawings to the Mines ministry and now awaits his special grant from the mines ministry.

“He has put in the work, put in the machinery and is very productive.

“Unfortunately, only one of the former syndicate partners is engaged in efforts to reap where he has not sown.”

Samuriwo said: “I’m not fighting any battle with Ndlovu over some mine, but everything is in the hands of the judicial system.

“All the paperwork in connection with me is in court, but I want to put it on record that I’m not fighting any mine battle with Ndlovu.”

Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube said he was not aware of the complaint against Nyabadza. – The Standard

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