Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Security agents flush out illegal diamonds dealers from Mutare streets

MUTARE – Security agents have taken their campaign against illegal diamond dealing onto the streets of this eastern border city where they are arresting anybody found in possession of foreign currency.

Several vehicles have been confiscated from suspected diamond dealers and miners.

Those arrested are being taken to the Chiadzwa diamond fields where they are forced to fill up gullies that were left by illegal miners.

The campaign, being spearheaded by the army and the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), has been round condemned by human rights activists as illegal and inhumane.

The Zimbabwe Republic Police have subordinated themselves in this campaign which has seen about 500 people being rounded up and taken to Chiadzwa.

Trust Maanda, regional coordinator of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said: “They are taking people without regard to whether they are dealing with diamonds or not. In fact, they are abducting people and commandeering them into ZUPCO buses and taking them to diamond fields of Chiadzwa where they are tortured.”

Maanda added: “We condemned it in the strongest terms. It’s illegal. The process o the law is that if somebody is suspected on reasonable grounds to have committed an offence that person must be brought before a court of law in accordance with the normal procedure not to be taken to Chiadzwa.”

Maanda said the campaign was inhumane and degrading and should be immediately stopped.

“It’s not a sustainable way of dealing with Chiadzwa,” he said. Maanda said assets belonging to suspected diamond dealers and miners have been confiscated by security agents.

He said the security agents were disregarding court orders to return assets they have taken from suspects.

Since Monday soldiers, CIO operatives and police details have been moving around the city centre and high density suburbs rounding up suspected diamond dealers and miners and searching them.

Anybody found in possession of foreign currency especially United States Dollars, British Pounds and South African Rands are immediately arrested.

Then they are taken to Mutare Central police station where ZUPCO buses will take them to Chiadzwa.

By yesterday six bus loads of suspects had been taken to the diamond fields.

One police officer said those taken t the diamond fields to fill up gullies were being denied food and water.

“It’s a disaster,” the police officer, based at Mutare Central police station, said. “People are forced to work for two days without food or water.”

They were reports that female suspects taken to Chiadzwa were being sexual abuse b security agents so as to avoid being beaten up or tortured.

The latest campaign come as soldiers intensified their ruthless operation to flush out illegal miners and dealers from Chiadzwa diamond fields.

Bodies of dead panners and dealer are piling up at Mutare Provincial Hospital while several others are scattered in the forests surrounding the diamond fields.

An unknown number of dead bodies are buried in collapsed tunnels inside the diamond fields.

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