AS law enforcement agents tighten screws on the Chiadzwa diamonds fields, a Marange woman was found in possession of 83 uncut gems hidden in her private parts, while 168 illegal panners were nabbed on Sunday for illegally entering the protected zone. Vimbai Munjoma (43) has since appeared before a Mutare senior magistrate for contravening Section 3 (1) of the Precious Stones Trade Act Chapter 21:06, which outlaw the possession of gems without a valid licence.
Munjoma, who was being represented by Mr Farai Matinhure of Gonese and Ndhlovu Legal Practitioners, was not asked to plead when she appeared before Mrs Sekai Chiundura. She was remanded out of custody to March 17 on $150 bail. Mr Fletcher Karombe prosecuted.
It was the State’s case that on March 1, Munjoma was found in possession of 83 pieces of diamonds hidden in her private parts. “On the day in question detectives from the Minerals and Border Control Unit received a tip-off that Munjoma was in possession of diamonds and was coming from Chiadzwa diamond fields driving a Nissan Datsun truck. Detective Sergeant Mucharuona teamed up with Detective Assistant Mpofu and Sergeant Musora and waylaid the suspect at Mutare Teachers College.
“They stopped the suspected vehicle and identified themselves. “They requested the suspects to accompany them to their offices for a body search.
“There were five male suspects who were searched by male detectives while Munjoma was searched by a female Detective Sergeant Watyoka. A total of 16 pieces of diamonds were recovered from Munjoma’s pants,” said Mr Karombe.
Another 67 pieces were also discovered hidden in Munjoma’s private parts after she was taken to Mutare Provincial Hospital for a vaginal examination following a tip-off that she was still in possession of more gems.
The 168 illegal panners, who were rounded up unawares during sporadic raids, have since been fined for trespassing while some were taken to the courts.
The arrests follow last week’s death of three illegal panners who were trapped to death after a mining shaft they were working on collapsed on the banks of Makodzi River.
This also follows Government’s move to comply with a court order for Mbada Diamonds (Pvt) Limited security team to return to their diamond mining site to secure its gems and equipment. Since moving back, Mbada Diamond’s security personnel have partnered law enforcement agents in flushing out the illegal panners.
Officer-in-charge Marange Police Station, Inspector Ruzungunde, said the illegal panners were nabbed on Sunday for trespassing into the fields.
“They were rounded up and handed over to the Minerals and Border Control Unit,” he said. Those arrested were either found right in the fields or at shopping centres that are located in the protected zone.
The suspects were cleared after paying fines, while some were taken to the courts. Manicaland provincial police spokesperson, Inspector Tavhiringwa Kakohwa, said he was still to get information on the arrests.
“We are trying to contact the police in Marange but their phones are not reachable,” he said. Security officers manning the fields revealed that the illegal panners retire to their bases at day break and invade the fields during the night.
“They operate like nocturnal animals. During the day there will be no one in the fields. It will be quiet. All hell breaks loose at night as they invade in droves to steal the diamonds.
“Some of them are dangerous criminals and you have to be extra careful when approaching them. “They will do anything to resist arrest,” said one of the officers who cannot be named for professional reasons.-Manicapost