Another Violent Death At The Zimbabwe Diamond Fields

A diamond dealer holds out a rough diamond wrapped in a US Dollar note at Chiadzwa. The area is now a magnet for all sorts of shady characters, including armed robbers, who shot and killed a shopkeeper on Friday. They come in search of the wealth (in US Dollars, now Zimbabwe's official currency) they believe pervades the area as diamond dealers splash out in shops or hoard cash at home from their illegal diamond sales

Harare, Zimbabwe, 20 October 2009

The Chiadzwa Diamond Fields are proving to be a hunting ground for violent criminals. It emerges today that a young man has died at the army-controlled Diamond Fields, shot in the stomach by armed robbers.

Three men showed up at a shop at Chiadzwa and bought drinks and cigarettes, apparently. And then they hung about until after 10p.m., when the shop was closing. Instead of asking them to leave, an assistant to the shopkeeper decided to lock them in, so that no one else could come in. He would have unlocked for them to leave.

Instead of leaving, the three produced guns, fired into the air and demanded the cash that they were sure the shopkeeper had. In the ensuing scuffle, the shopkeeper, Gilbert Manombori, was shot and killed. His assistant, Blessing Namasasi, was shot in the stomach when he attempted to rescue his friend and fellow shopkeeper. The shot was not fatal.

Both men were 19 years old.

The incident occurred at Masasi Business Centre at Mangatu Village in Chiadzwa.

Because of the diamonds found at Chiadzwa, the area has gained a reputation as a place where cash flows freely. With US dollars now the official currency of Zimbabwe, the prospect of a shop till filled with the greenback proved irresistible for the thieves.

They have not been apprehended yet.

The surprising thing, though, is that this incident should take place at the Diamond Fields, which are crawling with Zimbabwe soldiers, all armed to the teeth. Surely they heard the shots that were fired by the thieves? 

Which then raises the question of how they could make good their escape and vanish into thin air without the soldiers intervening at all?

It does sound fishy, does it not?

In any case, the incident shows just how dangerous this area has become. The sooner organised mining activity is allowed at the area, with a single company in charge of the security of the diamonds and the workers, the better it will be for everyone, especially the villagers of Chiadzwa, whose sleepy villages have been turned into den of armed robbers.

If the thieves know that there is organised mining taking place, with diamonds being kept in secure places and no selling on the streets, with the workers relying on salaries and not on income from sales of diamonds on the streets, they will view the area in a different light. The company, also would be better able to protect the wealth of the country in vaults and such.

But do not hold your breath. A lot of Big Men are making a lot of Big Money from the diamonds of Chiadzwa and the emergence of organised mining is still a long way off. Meantime, you can rest assured that this is not the last violent crime you will read of from the Diamond Fields.


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