KADOMA businessman and miner Litten Chikoore who was captured on camera assaulting Pedzisai Mangisi for allegedly stealing from him was sentenced to eight months in prison which were wholly suspended by Kadoma magistrate Takudzwa Gwazemba on Friday last week after he pleaded guilty to the charge.
The state led by Gracious Chaminuka believed that, Chikoore deserved a custodial sentence as he was a potential criminal with previous three cases at the court which were all withdrawn before trial which are, 2014 attempt murder case under CRB number 12/06, same year another of impersonation as a cop CRB number 12/08 and in 2016 for allegedly contravening the Mines and Mining Act.
Chikoore’s lawyer, Ignatius Murambasvina told the court that Chikoore first handed Mangisi to the police when he discovered that he had stolen 400 grams of gold, Murambatsvina further said that the police saw it fit for Chikoore to have an out of court settlement with the accused.
However, Chikoore then decided to settle the matter by thoroughly beating Mangisi unreasonably which shocked Zimbabweans with most calling for authorities to arrest Chikoore.
This case comes after residents and the mining towns were complaining about artisanal miners popularly known as MaShurugwi for disturbing the peace of the country’s social and economic spheres.
The gold and diamond small scale mining sector has been reportedly labeled a brutal and unfriendly field where violence is strife.
Many books are written on African small scale and artisanal mining, where the industry is largely labeled hellish and devilish and surviving on the exploitation of human labour, workers treated like second class citizens. Ordinary citizens believe that the magistrate did not do what he exactly needed to do to combat violence in the small scale and artisanal mining sector. He left the door open for the continuation of violence in the mining industry.
According to one miner identified as Mr. Rupende, the way the court of law treated Chikoore’s case shows that justice is only targets the poor, the elite is privileged to get away with such behavior. The court should have sent a clear message making Chikoore’s case as an example to other miners who are treating their employees shamelessly.
“In my opinion someone, somewhere was bribed because you don’t have to take the law into own hands. He was supposed to hand over him to the police if he had committed a crime. Anywhere this is one case out of a thousand, mine owners abuse their employees” said Repende.
One miner and Zimbabwe Miners Federation member said that a custodian sentence would have sent a message to fellow miners regarding the violence in the mining industry.
“It’s heartbreaking because a custodial sentence would have been a deterrent to would be offenders. Let’s wait and see if the prosecution will appeal the sentence. In any case that’s why we encourage miners to affiliate to associations so that they get the necessary advocacy in times like this” said Sibanda
However, former ZASMC president Mr. Chris Murove believes that Chikoore’s case has made an impact on would be offenders, he was humiliated by the public and might have suffered psychologically therefore slamming his community service sentence as nothing is a bit harsh since for a record Chikoore is now a convict.
“While the sentence might appear very lenient to the ordinary observer in light of the severity of the assault done by the convicted Chikowore on the hapless artisanal miner, it must be borne in mind that our justice system in Zimbabwe is a corrective system rather than a retributive one unlike other justice systems that call for “an eye for an eye”. The said Chikowore is now a convicted criminal and that fact alone can cause him mental pain and anguish” said Mr Murove.
Murove further went on to say that, miners and individuals were judging Chikoore harshly because they lack legal literacy, the magistrate by convicting Chikoore has shown that no one is above the law.
“ Furthermore the magistrate or judge will have taken other factors into account before reaching that judgement and it would improper for anyone who is not a legal person to comment either way on that judgement. The best thing now is to accept that judgement and to move forward. Such action by whoever, however financially or politically connected they may be has been criminalised and the judgement demonstrates that no one has the license to physically abuse any other individual” said Murove.