WORKERS TRAPPED UNDERGROUND FOR 22 HOURS IN VIOLENT MINE TAKEOVER | Ten miners were held hostage for 22 hours in a 100 metre deep mine shaft in Colleen Bawn by seven men who attacked them with machetes, leaving three miners hospitalised.
The 10 hostage victims spent the night in the mine shaft and were only rescued by police the following morning following a failed bid by their attackers to take over Antenior 5 Mine in Colleen Bawn.
The machete wielding gang stole gold ore whose value has not been ascertained and phones as well as torches worth $500 from their victims.
The incident happened on Saturday at about 11PM.
Same Hlongwane (31), Kenwell Moyo (30) both of Gwanda, Knowledge Maduveko (30), John Maduveko (31) both of Shurugwi and Witness Bhachi (29) of Mberengwa were arrested in connection with the hostage drama.
Two other men identified as Bisho Mwale and Honoured are on the run.
Hlongwane, Moyo, Maduveko (30), John and Bhachi were yesterday not asked to plead when they appeared before provincial magistrate, Mr Willard Maphios Moyo, facing robbery and kidnapping charges.
They were all remanded in custody to November 7.
Mr Moyo advised the accused persons to apply for bail at the High Court.
Prosecuting, Ms Tererai Mahohoma said the gang went to Antenior 5 Mine in Colleen Bawn on October 21 armed with three machetes, an axe, an okapi knife and a pair of catapults. “On 21 October around 11PM, the accused persons and two other men who are still at large connived to take over operations at Antenior 5 Mine in Colleen Bawn.
They found Mr Shadreck Ndlovu and Mr Shelton Nyatongo operating a windlass outside the mine shaft. The gang attacked Mr Ndlovu with a machete and fists while Mr Nyatongo fled from the scene,” said Ms Mahohoma.
“They took Mr Ndlovu down into the mine shaft where his other workmates were working. Mwale and Honoured who are still at large remained outside operating the windlass.”
He said while in the mine shaft the accused persons attacked eight miners with machetes, axe, and an okapi knife and kidnapped two more miners who had also come to rescue their colleagues.
The miners who were injured in the attack and three of the accused persons were hospitalised.
Ms Mahohoma said the accused persons ordered the miners to lie on the ground facing down and stole their gold ore whose value is yet to be ascertained.
They also stole cell phones and torches valued at $500.
“Upon learning of the violence which was taking place at the mine, Mr Tawanda Siziba and Mr Sikhululekile Mpofu teamed up with other miners to intervene. Mwale and Honoured who were left manning the windlass fled upon seeing them.
“Mr Siziba and Mr Mpofu entered the mine shaft intending to negotiate the release of their fellow miners. The accused persons however refused to release them and also held Mr Siziba and Mr Mpofu hostage,” she said.
Ms Mahohoma said the accused persons held the 10 miners hostage in the 100 metre mine shaft for 22 hours and only released them the following day at around 9AM after police intervened. Property worth $16 was recovered.
Ms Mahohoma said the miners sustained varying injuries and three of them are still admitted to United Bulawayo Hospitals and Gwanda Provincial Hospital.