Gold diggers

Kabelo Dipholo
BUSTED: One of the suspects, accompanied by his wife

Four Chinese men implicated in illegal mining

Four Chinese men appeared before Masunga Magistrate Court on Wednesday afternoon charged with unlawful possession of raw precious metals.

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The quartet was also charged with prospecting minerals without a mining licence.

The four: Qingxion Zhou, 45, Haiyan Xiong, 49, Goushen Xiong, 42, Kaijin Zhou, 42, together with a 20-year-old local man, Vezera Willy, who was acting as their guide, were busted in broad daylight on Monday afternoon by security agents near Sechele village.

While there has never been any mining around Kalakamati and Sechele, the gold belt from Matsiloje and Francistown reaches these villages all the way to Maitengwe, and illegal gold miners have been terrorising villagers in search of these precious stones.

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According to the statement read in court, the four Asians, who run businesses in Gaborone, had a successful treasure hunt in Kalakamati earlier that day, and were on their way to prospect and mine for more at a private farm in Sechele.

Botswana Police Prosecutor, Sergeant Phobe Tumalano, revealed the group was caught red handed, and could not explain where they got the suspicious metals.

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“They were arrested and found in possession of precious stones suspected to be gold,” Tumalano told court.

Arraignment had to be delayed as the four Chinese men demanded an interpreter but when he was finally found, they said he was speaking a different dialect of their language.

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China has more than 300 languages and Mandarin Chinese with more than 1.1 billion speakers is the most widely spoken form of the language.

Court had to be adjourned as the prosecution went on the hunt for a translator. A Chinese man working for a construction company engaged in the Masunga-Tshesebe road was brought in and the matter eventually proceeded.

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While the prosecution did not contest Willy’s bail application, Tumalano pleaded with the Magistrate to keep the four Chinamen locked up, to allow his team to conduct thorough investigations.

He said all four were a flight risk, and also feared they could temper with evidence.

The prosecutor got his wish as the four men were further remanded in custody with bail ruling set for Monday.

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