Sunday, 15 August 2021

MY 14 CHILDREN ARE NOW STRUGGLING : JAILED GOLD DEALER

POPULAR gold dealer, Baron Dube (47) claims that he is not violent and blames his colleagues for tarnishing his reputation.

Dube is a man who needs no introduction. He is that gold dealer and businessman who attained infamy because of his penchant to solve mining and business disputes with threats and violence.

Sentenced to an effective 10 years in prison for killing a member of a rival gang following a dispute at a mine, Dube, who is housed at Khami Maximum Prison, has finally opened up, nine months after being locked away. In an interview with B-Metro, Dube said his conviction had really affected his family as he was the breadwinner of his 14 children that he was staying with at the time of his incarceration.

“A lot of people out there don’t really understand who Baron Dube is, but let me take this opportunity to clarify myself, I am a father of 14 children and the eldest is 12 this year. To these children, I am the father and the mother at the same time as I have been raising these children alone. I never had a wife that I was staying with at that time. So, my absence in their lives is one of the most difficult times for my children as I was the provider of everything and right now, I don’t even know who is taking care of my children, but what I know is that they are struggling out there,” he said.

Dube said the situation had been worsened by the outbreak of the Coronavirus that saw prison authorities stopping visitations as a way of trying to contain the spread of the deadly virus among inmates.

“I am a businessman and before I came to prison, I was running 11 gold claims, shops and a farm. The way I used to run my properties was a bit different from what you would see out there. I believed in being a hands-on kind of a person. I never had a right-hand man who would do most of my duties. Right now, I don’t even know what is going on in terms of my business because I do not get an opportunity to talk to people who are on the ground, but what I know is that this issue is going to affect my children as people are definitely taking advantage of the fact that I am not around,” he said.

The inmate said the idea of venturing into gold mining came in August 2002 after having worked for Mimosa Mine in Zvishavane for 10 years as an underground gang leader since he was a holder of a blasting licence.

“Venturing into mining was not by chance. I had worked for Mimosa Mine for more than 10 years as an underground gang leader and during that time I discovered that I was not getting money from the company if I was to compare the production that we were producing against the wage at the end of the month. In August 2002 I then decided to leave Mimosa and I moved to Esigodini and that’s where I registered my first claim and since then I never backtracked and at the time of my conviction, I had 11 gold claims and from that number only three claims are fully operational as we speak,” he said.

The miner said his initiatives helped a lot of people in Matabeleland South as his claims created a lot of employment opportunities.

“I know a lot of people have got this funny picture whenever the name Baron is mentioned, but the truth of the matter is I am not a violent person as it is perceived. I am one person who really understands and respects human life. In Esigodini, I made sure that I employed most of those people who came looking for jobs at my claims and by so doing those guys were remunerated very well such that they could take good care of their families.

“A lot of people think I am a violent person but the truth of the matter is the people that I worked with were the ones who tarnished my image to the extent that a lot of people think that I was a violent and ruthless person. In the gold rush areas that I had registered you would find that when we got there, we would find more than 2 000 illegal miners already on the ground. So, to avoid serious conflict with those guys we would just come up with an operating framework that incorporated them. But remember we are talking of people coming from different regions and provinces and while working, conflicts would arise and fights would take place and when being reported in the Press it would be said Baron and his team attacked people which would not be the case,” he said.

Dube said the case that saw him being convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison occurred after he was attacked by illegal miners who were mining on the road that linked one of his claims and his homestead in Esigodini at a farm called Khalanyoni.

“I was actually coming from one of my claims around 9pm when I found a team of illegal miners digging a road that links one of my claims to my homestead. So, I disembarked from the vehicle and I approached the team and asked them to operate away from the road as this was already making it difficult for my vehicles to pass through that area.

The team pretended as if they had understood my plight and they took their tools and walked for about 500 meters and suddenly they started advancing towards me and pelted me with stones and I tried to run towards my car, but I could not make it as I fell into one of the pits the boys had opened,” he said.

Dube said when he fell on the ground, the gun that he was carrying tumbled out of the holster and discharged.

“I never realised that in the process someone had been shot by the weapon that I was carrying because after the incident I drove back home and the next morning I discovered that someone had died. Police officers were already on the scene investigating to try and establish what had really happened,” he said.

Dube said he never thought he would find himself behind bars as his gun had accidentally discharged leading to the death of another miner.

“From the time the case started running up to now I have lost over US$10 000 to try and get back my freedom as I never shot anyone, but the weapon fell on the ground and discharged. When the Judge gave me his sentence at first, I thought it was a joke but when I got to Khami Remand Prison that’s when I discovered that I was now an inmate.

Life in prison is not easy and it will never be easy and the issue of not seeing my kids really affects me a lot, but I would like to thank the support that I get from the rehabilitation section as they at times call them to try and find out how they are managing,” he said.

The inmate said violence in the mining industry should come to an end as a lot of people had lost their lives because of precious metal which is something that can be avoided.

“If you are to look at the time that I have spent behind bars in monetary value, I have lost a lot of money over an issue that could have been solved without the use of violence. So I would like to urge other miners out there to shun violence as this can really affect you as you would lose a lot of money on lawyers and even time would be lost while you are in prison,” he said.

Station rehabilitation officer Leonard Matsvange said Dube was one of the inmates showing elements of change compared with what is said about his previous life. 

“We have been providing counselling sessions to Baron and we are progressing well and I hope by the time of his release he is going to be a changed man. I hope this situation is also a message to other gold miners that no one is above the law,” he said.- B-Metro

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