Police lay siege at ZACC commissioner’s mine, claims Matanga forestalling arrest

MT DARWIN – Police have laid siege on a Mt Darwin mine in a tense showdown between police commissioner Godwin Matanga and Sukai Tongogara, the executive secretary of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission which is reportedly planning to arrest the country’s top cop for corruption.

Dozens of artisanal miners were rounded up at the mine in the Mukaradzi area on Monday accused of illegal mining activities. Tongogara’s lawyers say the charges were later changed to violating Covid-19 regulations.

The miners were made to pay fines but were barred from returning to the mine where a police unit has been deployed, allegedly at the command of one of Matanga’s lieutenants Assistant Commissioner John Simon.

ZACC is reportedly investigating Matanga for procurement corruption in the acquisition of police vehicles.

A source briefed on the ZACC probe said: “Matanga is trying to intimidate Tongogara so that she throws away the docket which he knows will lead to his arrest.

“These are the actions of a desperate man battling to save his job.”

ZACC spokesman John Makamure said he was not aware of a ZACC investigation into Matanga.

“I’m not aware of any investigations by ZACC targeting the commissioner general of police. I’m also not aware of any imminent arrest by ZACC of the commissioner general,” Makamure told ZimLive.

In a letter to Matanga dated January 18, Tongogara’s lawyers gave the ZRP 24 hours to withdraw its officers from the mine or face court action.

The lawyers insist that the “Tongo Mining Syndicate is a licenced mining venture operating in terms of the laws of Zimbabwe.”

“Despite protestations by our employees that they were not makorokoza, they were taken to Mt Darwin Police Station  where they were forced to pay fines for having been found without face masks in violation of Covid-19 regulations. This was not what they were arrested for,” Maseko Law Chambers wrote.

“Our instructions are to inquire under what authority members of the ZRP are acting in stopping our licenced operations. Our client believes that these are the actions of overzealous police officers who seem not to have anything to do.”

On Wednesday, Assistant Commissioner Simon convened a meeting with local miners where he claimed they were responding to reports of machete gangs, robberies, murder and theft.

The miners told him Mt Darwin had no such reports, although such cases were recorded in Shamva.

Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi, the national police spokesman, denied that Matanga was behind the siege at Tongogara’s mine.

He said: “The ZRP is conducting a nationwide operation against illegal mining and gold panning activities throughout the country dubbed operation Chikorokoza Ngachipere/Isitsheketsha Kasiphele and No to Machete Gangs.

“The operation is not confined to Mt Darwin or Mukarardzi areas as alleged. It has nothing to do with any investigation being conducted by ZACC. Above all, deployments on the operation are not being done by the commissioner general of police.”

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