from MARCUS MUSHONGA in Harare, Zimbabwe
HARARE, (CAJ News) – A ZIMBABWEAN court has released 28 villagers arrested last week for protesting against a Chinese diamond miner east of the Southern African country.
Those released include a headman, Robert Chiadzwa (90) said to have led the protest against Anjin Investments.
The villagers are demonstrating against the establishment of a new processing plant in the Chiadzwa diamond fields.
The protests emanates from the diamond miner’s decision to have Chief Marange instead of Headman Chiadzwa preside over rituals conducted to allow it to resume mining operations.
Anjin Investments reportedly failed to turn up for a meeting last week at Headman Chiadzwa’s homestead of which the diamond miner had agreed to attend so as to iron out some grievances which the villagers had.
This, prosecutors said, prompted the villagers to force their way into Anjin Investments’ new processing plant and barricaded all roads leading to the plant with stones.
Prosecutors alleged that villagers ordered all Anjin Investments employees to shut down operations while the other villagers were carrying placards denouncing the diamond miner.
Villagers, prosecutors said, protested against being side lined in the rituals process and reportedly demanded that 10 percent of Anjin Investments employees should be from the local community.
They also complained about the ill-treatment of workers by some Chinese nationals.
The Chiadzwa villagers allegedly assaulted some Chinese nationals for refusing to obey their orders to stop all operations at the diamond plant although they did not sustain serious injuries.
Magistrate Langton Mukwengi has released the villagers on bail.
The matter is back in court on November 22.
– CAJ News