PROMINENT Esigodini businessman, Baron Dube has been arrested for allegedly inciting a group of illegal gold panners to attack his rivals in a fight to control goldfields.
Dube (41) and Mthulisi Ngwenya (33), the ring leader of the rival group, both from Habane Township jointly appeared before Esigodini resident magistrate Lungile Ncube yesterday facing charges of incitement to commit public violence.
They were both remanded in custody to August 2 for bail application. Dube is being represented by Ms Nozabelo Ndlovu of Kossam Ncube and Partners while Ngwenya is a self actor.
The pair is accused of inciting a group of youths from of their camps to engage in public violence.
Dube leads a group from Filabusi while Ngwenya is the ring leader of the Nkayi group. The two rival camps were involved in skirmishes over the control of gold fields in Esigodini.
Sixteen members from both groups among them, four juveniles, also appeared before the same magistrate facing charges of public violence. They were remanded in custody to August 11.
Prosecuting, Jefta Nyikadzinashe said on July 28, Dube engaged the services of Eric Nyoni and several others who were not identified to attack a group of illegal gold panners from Nkayi.
The court heard that Dube transported the group from Filabusi to Esigodini Business Centre where the clashes took place.
Ngwenya communicated with Nkosiyazi Moyo and Sicelo Mkhwananzi and incited them to attack Dube’s group.
The court heard that shortly after 10.30AM, the rival groups met at Habane Business Centre and they were involved in running battles, attacking each other using stones, iron bars and machetes.
Residents who spoke the Chronicle yesterday said violence by the two groups started shortly after 7AM and lasted for several hours. Police had to be called in to quell the situation and they fired three warning shots to stop the violence.
“It all started after a panner from Nkayi was seen wearing a hat belonging to a member of a gang from Filabusi. The man from Nkayi had taken the headgear from a prostitute and was spotted by the other resulting in a fight,” said Khulani Ndlovu.
He said the panner from Nkayi reported the matter to the police and on his way back he found the two groups already engaged in skirmishes.
“They started fighting at about 8AM and the battles continued until 3PM. Police came and had to fire warning shots to stop the fight.
They were about 30 people who were fighting and sadly these people are not locals but came all the way from Nkayi and Filabusi in search of gold,” he said.
A local businessman who declined to be named said the battles were a threat to their businesses as they were at times forced to close shop to avoid being caught in cross-fire. chronicle