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Cops strike zama zama gold

Christinah Motlhabane
FRESH FROM PRISON: The suspects on their return to court

Barefoot, disheveled and tired, three Zimbabwean men and a teenage boy suspected to be illegal gold miners appeared before Francistown Magistrates Court last Friday.

With no Ndebele or Shona interpreter available, the weary quartet’s arraignment was rescheduled for the following Tuesday.

It appears four nights in a Botswana jail suited the four well, as they returned to court looking fresh, sporting prison-style shaved hairstyles and shoes.

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The accused: Phahlula Sibanda, 28, Kholwani Sibanda, 39, Dube Khumbulani, 46, and a 16-year-old minor who is too young to be named, were reportedly rumbled at the abandoned Rainbow Mines in Matsiloje.

It seems they found gold at the bottom of the rainbow, as, when searching the suspects, the cops reportedly uncovered stones thought to contain the sought-after precious mineral.

The eldest of the suspects, Khumbalani, was hit with an additional charge of unlawful possession of explosives.

During the arrest, he was allegedly caught with a strange gel, a substance the police believe is used to explode the rocks to get to the gold.

While pleas on the more serious charges were reserved, all four admitted to being in Botswana illegally.

The stones have been sent to the lab for forensic analysis, with the results expected back by the next court sitting, set for 5 September.

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Deemed a flight risk, the four will remain in custody until then.

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