A middle-aged couple allocated chrome claims by an Afrochine agent lost over 20 tonnes of Chrome to Oliken (Pvt) ltd a Kwekwe based company which claims the couple was stealing the chrome from their site.
The Couple, Mr. and Mrs. Kanengoni first approached Afrochine to seek tributaries. Afrochine then directed the couple to an agent who was in charge of allocating claims on their behalf for tributary mining. The couple was allocated claims they should work on then proceeded to start mining. After mining over they contacted Afrochine who in turn sent inspectors and a truck to collect chrome. The couple got paid and continued working as usual.
“We approached Afrochine and were directed to an agent who gave us claims to work on. We produced chrome, Afrochine inspectors came graded our product and were paid per grade as usual”
This continued as usual with the couple smiling to the bank.
A dispute arose when the couple had spent three months mining and pilling chrome then raised over 20 tonnes of chrome followed the usual procedure. The Afrochine representative by the name of Mlaudzi inspected the chrome and a truck came and collected. To their surprise the next day a man called and claimed the Kanengonis’ had been stealing chrome from Olikem claims. Afrochine then proceeded to pay the Olikem instead of the couple without any consultations or any form of explanation. The Kanengonis only got to find out about this when they made payment follow up.
“To our surprise, a man called claiming we were stealing chrome from his company’s claims. We were shocked when we made a payment follow up that the man’s company (Olikem) had been paid. We protested to Afrochine why this was as we had never been summoned and the complainant to clarify the whole issue” said Mrs. Kanengoni “It was unbelievable as we did not just start mining from nowhere but an Afrochine agent had given us the claims on behalf of Afrochine. How is it that we mine for three straight months no one approaches us but when we submit chrome we are informed we had been stealing?”
This reporter then contacted Mr. Mugwaku the Oliken manager who said it was he who discovered the theft.
“My brother I intercepted a truck loading chrome and demanded Afrochine pays for the chrome that was being stolen from us” He said. When asked if Olikem had approached the “illegal miners” or taken any measures of stopping “the theft” or involve the Police like ZIMASCO had previously done he said,” No we have not since this is the first time this had happened”
The couple disputes that the Oliken manager had ever approached them or let alone been on site.
“Afrochine despite having given us the claims decided to pay someone else and imagine how difficult this was on us after putting in the time and labor then someone else got the payment. We have never seen this Mugwaku guy at the site. Our daughter’s dowry had just been paid and we used that money as capital”, The distraught Mrs. Kanengoni said. “If we can at least get the money we used for operations and labor it is better rather than lose everything to something that’s not of our own making”.
Afrochine then insisted we meet with the Oliken people and advised we go to their offices to get the matter sorted. Mr. Kanengoni went to the said place and could not find anyone and some people they said they should approach were non-existent.
“My husband went to the said place but could not get anyone. People who were in the area told me the office was hardly operational. We tried calling but only got excuse after excuse. When I called the manager he said he doesn’t know about us why should he entertain us. He insists we get our money where we delivered our chrome and stop bothering him. The Oliken manager is always rude but when Afrochine calls him in our presence he sounds sincere and acts as if he wants to resolve the issue when he does not. We never just walked on to the claims but were allocated by an Afrochine representative on their behalf, this is so unfair”.
The couple approached the Police who in turn accused the couple of stealing, threatened them with arrest to which the couple explained how they been allocated the place. The Police then advised them to find a solution with Oliken and Afrochine.
Oliken is currently not mining anywhere in the area as the manager admitted and the couple is suspicious this might be a syndicate between Afrochine employees and some unscrupulous characters using people to work and producing minerals then someone claims the product is from their mine then gets paid for it.
The Oliken manager said the couple should approach them so that they can reach an amicable solution.
The middle-aged couple resorted to approaching Norton miners Association who tried in vain to get the issue sorted as their messages were ignored. Messages sent to Afrochine Manager Mr. Ben by this publication and Norton Miners Association went unanswered.
This article first appeared in the March 2020 Issue of the Mining Zimbabwe Magazine