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Ex-Chegutu West MP Dexter Nduna, two others acquitted of illegally prospecting for gold

“In conclusion, the allegations that accused persons took soil away without further ado did not prove the offence of contravening section 368 of the Mines and Minerals Act. There was need for evidence of where they took the soil and what they did with it. Nothing was availed before the court to show for any conduct depicting traditional or scientific examination."

FORMER Zanu PF Chegutu Member of Parliament, Dexter Nduna and two co-accused persons have been acquitted of charges of illegally prospecting for precious minerals without a licence or permit.

The 54-year-old ex-lawmaker, former police superintendent Wonder Chisikwa now aged 55, and renowned gold miner, Tawanda Marufu now aged 37, had the charge, which carries a mandatory two-year jail term, hanging around their necks since 2019 but are now free men.

In his judgement, Magistrate Stanley Mambanje sitting at Chinhoyi Court Complex this week, found the trio not guilty resulting in the acquittal.

“Prospecting includes geological mapping, rock and soil assay analysis, and sometimes the intuition of the prospector. Numerous gold prospecting techniques have been used in gold prospecting ranging from traditional and contemporary methods…

“In the absence of this analysis, or examination, which in my view is a key element of search, it cannot be said that there is prospecting for minerals,” said Mambanje.

“From the phrasing of the charge, it is made clear that what the person is prospecting for are minerals. It would be improper to seek to found a conviction in the absence of scientific proof that the soil that was collected contained some minerals.

“In casu, the accused persons were arrested for having collected some soil. The allegations didn’t go beyond that.

“In conclusion, the allegations that accused persons took soil away without further ado did not prove the offence of contravening section 368 of the Mines and Minerals Act. There was need for evidence of where they took the soil and what they did with it. Nothing was availed before the court to show for any conduct depicting traditional or scientific examination.

“Put simply, we hear nothing pertaining to panning, or taking the ore to any laboratory. This cannot be inferred or presumed.”

The presiding magistrate said the State case, as presented by the prosecution led by Herald Matura, was weak to prompt a conviction.

“In the final analysis, therefore, l am inclined to find that the evidence led was short of satisfying all the requisite elements of the offence as charge in section 368 of the Act. In the result, l return the following verdict, all three accused persons are found not guilty and are acquitted,” ruled Mambanje.

Upon their arrest in 2018, the trio was initially charged alongside then Zanu PF youth leader Vengai Musengi, then Chegutu Rural District Council chairperson, Tatenda Gwinji, and Nyasha Nyikadzino.

Along the way, the others were cleared of any wrongdoing and set free.

Allegations were that on November 12, 2019, Nduna, Chisikwa, Musengi and Gwinji met at ZRP Chegutu district headquarters where they held a meeting and hatched a plan to extract mineral ore from David Whitehead Company waste deposit tanks where there was a pit which had been dug by illegal miners who were prospecting for gold.

In their meeting, the accused persons allegedly agreed to look for a JCB to extract the mineral ore and Gwinji opted to approach Chegutu RDC requesting for the services of a JCB excavator.

The court heard that the following day, Nduna, decided to hire the equipment from Yellow Metal Tours Company, Kadoma, of which he paid US$495 through a proxy.

On November 13, at around 7:30am, Chisikwa went to David Whitehead Company waste deposit tanks pit and told police officers who were guarding the site being led by Sergeant William Gwemende that an excavator was coming to backfill the pit.

Chisikwa returned to the police station and while at his office, he phoned Gwemende on his mobile phone and informed him that Nduna, was coming to the site to have an appreciation of the site and was to brief him.

It was alleged, a few minutes later, Nduna arrived at the site in the company of Musengi and was briefed by Gwemende and got an appreciation of the pit.

Court heard he assured Gwemende that an excavator was coming to backfill the pit. At 8:30am, the equipment from Yellow Metal Tours Company Kadoma, which was being operated by Stanley Sibanda, arrived at the site.

The JCB operated for about three hours extracting ore and heaping it to the side of the pit and Musengi ordered Marufu to instruct the excavator operator to load mineral ore into vehicles, before leaving the site.

It is not the first time for Nduna to be acquitted. In 2018, he faced charges of unlawfully discharging a firearm in public but was cleared by the court after the State failed to prove a prima facie case against him.

It was the State’s case that on May 1 2018 during Zanu-PF primary elections, he fired four shots into the air at Chinengundu Primary School, Pfupajena, Chegutu.

In his application for discharge at the close of the State case, Nduna, through his lawyers, told the court that he had lawful cause to discharge the firearm, whose issuing purpose is self-protection and cash in transit security.

He further argued that on the day in question, violence broke out during the primary poll and one of his aides, Munyaradzi Simango, also known as Mahwiro, was severely assaulted and left for dead. – (New Zimbabwe)

 

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