Miners of misfortune

Kabelo Dipholo
REMANDED: One of illegal gold miners(L),NOT STRIKING GOLD: Accused 6 and 7 (on the right)

No bail for Zim gold hunters

An ill advised attempt at ‘hitting the golden jackpot’ has landed seven Zimbabwean nationals in deep trouble after they were caught prospecting and mining gold illegally around Sechele and Kalakamati.

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The seven, six men and a woman, appeared before Masunga Magistrates Court last Monday, where all except one pleaded guilty to the charge of prospecting minerals without a mining licence.

According to the Investigating Officer, Constable John Makhubu of Nlakhwane Police Post, the treasure hunters were caught in the act and arrested on 13th September near Isaac Hlabano’s farm.

“I was engaged in an operation together with the Botswana Defence Force when we encountered the accused. We were immediately suspicious that they were mining illegally,” explained Makhubu.

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He said of the seven, only two had documentation: Western Chibi, who resides in Sebina and was the only one with legal representation, as well as the group’s sole female, Blessing Dube.

The other five: Kaunda Ndlivu, Mothusi Nyathina, Melly Moyo, Nkululeko Moyo and Hudson Motavai, were all found to be in Botswana without the required papers.

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While six of the suspects confessed, showed remorse and prayed for a fine instead of prison, Chibi entered a not guilty plea, and demanded his freedom.

Prosecutor, Sergeant Omphitlhetse Tahla did not oppose Chibi’s bail application, noting he had already demonstrated that he was a resident of Sebina and was in the country legally.

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He further said they were not against Dube’s bail application but admitted the cops were yet to confirm the validity of her travelling documents.

Seargent Tahla did, however, request the other five be locked up as they entered Botswana through an ungazetted area, and thus were a flight risk.

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Presenting the evidence in court, Tahla said the seven were caught with three shovels, four pick-axes, two self made pick-axes and metal detectors.

After a lengthy mitigation by the accused, who blamed their transgressions on the economic situation in Zimbabwe, Senior Magistrate Segametsi Basinyi granted both Chibi and Dube bail and remanded the five others.

Begging court to hit his pocket and not his liberty, Moyo cried, “I’m sorry Your Worship. I only came here to try my luck; I’ll never do it again.”

He will find out if he is indeed in luck when the matter returns to court on 14 November.

Miners of misfortune
TOOLS OF THE TRADE: The miner\’s pick-axes
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