Gold panners machete war ends in tragedy

Muddied prospectors pan for gold in Manica Province, near the Zimbabwe border, September 17, 2010. Hundreds of miners work in individual claims rented from local landowners. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic (MOZAMBIQUE - Tags: SOCIETY EMPLOYMENT BUSINESS)

MACHETE wars between illegal gold miners in Kwekwe, which have become the order of the day, ended in tragedy, with the murder of Washington Dick last week.


Police have since launched a manhunt for Likhwa Ngwenya over the murder, which happened near the Kwekwe central business district.

Dick was found hacked several times with a machete, stoned on the head and beaten with blunt objects hours after he had called his wife, Margret Mhlanga telling her he was with Ngwenya. The two were allegedly trying to settle a long-standing mining dispute.

Gangs allegedly led by the two were last month embroiled in a nasty fight, where Ngwenya was allegedly hacked with a machete by Dick, resulting in the deceased being charged with attempted murder.

Dick’s lawyer, Shepperd Farai, confirmed his client had been found dead the morning he was due to appear at the Gokwe Magistrates’ Court on attempted murder charges, where Ngwenya was the complainant.

“I was in court with Dick in the afternoon, where I was defending him in a matter of assault, where he stood accused of beating up Ngwenya in September, the following day, we were supposed to appear at the Gokwe regional court, where he was to answer to attempted murder charges. He had been accused of hacking Ngwenya with a machete,” Farai said.

Dick could not make the trip to Gokwe after he was killed around 6pm just outside the city centre following a fight with four assailants spotted by witnesses.

The assailants were driving a Toyota Hiace that was recovered at Ngwenya’s home together with a blood stained T-shirt when police raided his home on Friday night.

Ngwenya reportedly escaped during the raid and is believed to be on the run.

Dick’s wife told NewsDay, police had informed her that they were looking for Ngwenya over her husband’s death.

“They told us they had recovered his kombi, which was placed on the scene of the murder by eye witnesses, they also found sandals, which belong to Ngwenya at the scene,” she said.

Dick’s body is expected to be taken to Bulawayo today for a post mortem.