Movie-style diamond mine robbery

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By Owen Gagare

AN armed gang of robbers, suspected to comprise members of Zimbabwe security forces and some artisanal miners, raided the Chiadzwa diamond fields on Sunday night and got away with tonnes of precious ore after overpowering Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) security in yet another movie-style raid of the mining area.

A similar heist was carried out in January, where men in military gear overpowered the company’s security staff and held them hostage before making good their escape with valuable gemstones. The armed robbers took advantage of the mayhem and civil unrest which rocked the country on January 15 to raid the diamond fields.

The state-owned company then fired 80 of its employees, many of them suspected of involvement in the daring heist.

On Sunday the gang, which was armed to the teeth, arrived at the fields in trucks, which they left outside the perimeter fence.

“They got into the diamond field on foot and again overpowered the company security, held them hostage before stealing some diamond ore from the premises. They used some sacks and containers to carry the ore which they offloaded in their getaway trucks,” a Mines ministry official said.

“It was clear that the gang was well-versed with the premises and the diamond fields. They targeted sections where they knew there was rich diamond ore. The raid was well-planned and each member of the team knew their role and executed it to perfection. They knew where to go and it was clear that there was some good planning before the raid.”
Officials revealed that similar raids had been carried out at the fields in the past.

The Zimbabwe Independent understands that Mines minister Winston Chitando has ordered an investigation into the heist.

Chitando confirmed the incident, but declined to discuss details and security issues around the Chiadzwa diamond fields, saying he would issue a statement today.

ZCDC chief executive officer Morris Mpofu said he could not comment on the matter as he was attending a funeral. After the January raid, Chitando told the Independent that the intruders got away with tailings from the dumps. Tailings are the residue of ore which would have been processed to extract diamonds. Last night, information permanent secretary Nick Mangwana was quoted by state media saying two suspects had been arrested and investigations are underway.

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