from PATRICK CHITONGO in Gezani
GEZANI, (CAJ News) – AN Amethyst gem miner in Gezani, Sengwe communal lands has been described as a neighbour from hell.
Disgruntled villagers say he is in the habit of harassing and exposing them to dangerous gases from his mine at Chemhuti area in ward 13.
Old Jackson Natala (83) whose homestead is 400 metres from Chibuku mine bears the most brunt of the mining activities of Anesu Ndlela, who comes all the way from Harare to mine in the land of the Octogenarian’s forefathers.
At his advanced age, Natala deserves to be enjoying a quiet and peaceful retirement but his life and that of his wife and 7 other dependents has been rudely disrupted by Ndlela’s mining activities.
Apart from the noise, Natala told Lowveld Post during a visit at his home that the whole family is living in fear of the miner after he allegedly threatened to push them out of the homestead they have lived for the past 40 years.
Ndlela is alleged to have told the family that he was given a permit to mine the mineral by the Ministry of mines.
Ndlela is also alleged to have told the family that the mining permit allows him to evict them, something that has left them paralysed with fear and anxiety.
For the past two years, the family has been subjected to psychological torture and exposure to dangerous gas from dynamites.
The homestead is situated East of the mine, and the wind often blows dynamite and other mining chemicals in its direction. He also said each time blasting is done, he and his entire family make it a point that they seek for shelter to avoid being injured by flying stone debris.
Natala also told Lowveld Post that his main house is cracking due to the force of the blasting.
“I stayed here for the past 40 years and this is my only home. When this miner (Old Jackson Natala) came here and started his activities, I tried to talk to him highlighting the dangers of him mining close to my homestead.
“He was arrogant and told me that it was me and my family who were supposed to make way for him because he has a mining permit. He refused even to compensate me,” Natala said.
He also said he approached Headman Gezani over the issue but he had not received any assistance.
“I reported this issue to our Headman (Gezani) who promised to deal with the matter but nothing materialized,” said the old man.
Headman Benson Gezani confirmed receiving the complaint from Natala. He also said he had since referred the matter to the local Mining Trust.
“I heard about that case and as you know, we have a local Mining Committee which I asked to look into the matter. I am not sure how far they have gone but the bottom line is that Mr Natala is being abused by these miners from Harare,” he said.
He also said they never consulted elders in the area, despite the fact that he is mining in an area of cultural significance to the Vatsonga people.
“We put all the blame to our local Environmental Management Agency (EMA) official and the Ministry of mines because we reported this miner to them but no action is being taken. Apart from affecting the Natala family, the miner is destroying trees, vegetation and soil covering 20 hectares. People in this area always inhale dangerous gases from dynamites and no one is happy about this,” headman Gezani said.
Chiredzi district EMA officer Peter Mugodhi also confirmed receiving the report but said the organisation is unable to deal with the matter.
“We heard about it and we are planning to visit that area but we are faced with transport challenges. We are now aware that there are over six claims being operated at that area illegally because they don’t have EMA documents. We are going to visit that area as a matter of urgency and we have since requested transport from head office, ” Mugodhi said.
There is currently an influx of miners and mineral buyers around Gezani area looking for the rare gem. Buyers come from as far as Mozambique, Ethiopia, Zambia, Rwanda and China.
Chiredzi South Member of Parliament Kallisto Gwanetsa said he was not aware of the activities of the miner but promised to look into the matter urgently.
“It’s a shocking evil being done by this miner. The issue was never brought to me but now that I am aware I am going to deal with it,” he said.
The owner of the mine told Lowveld Post at his mine site that he was not compelled to compensate the Natala family since he acquired a mining licence.
“I am the director in the company and I have all the papers for it. This is my area and I cannot be forced to compensate someone who is located within my mine,” he said.