Dinde battle: Activist freed

THE State has withdrawn charges against Dinde Residents Association vice president, Never Tshuma, who was facing public violence charges after he led a protest against a Chinese company’s coal mining operations in Hwange.

Dinde villagers have recently been up in arms with the Chinese investor, Beifa Investments, which was given special grants to mine coal in the area, culminating in Tshuma’s arrest in April.

However, his lawyer Gerald Musengi told the Daily News yesterday that Tshuma had been freed after the State withdrew the charges having failed to provide sufficient evidence to substantiate the allegations.

“The circumstances were primarily that the complainant felt it could not pursue the matter anymore,” Musengi said.

Greater Whange Residents Trust (GWRT) chairperson Fidel Chima said they welcomed the State’s decision to withdraw the charges, adding that they were concerned about the mining companies coming into the area.

“The communities are worried about the mushrooming of mining companies without sustainable development, without proper consultations with affected communities and no corporate social responsibility that is meaningful,” he said.

The Dinde villagers have been opposed to the mining project claiming the investors were going to displace them from their ancestral land with no compensation.

Mines minister Winston Chitando recently visited the area in a bid to engage the villagers over the issue, but the residents could have none of it.

The company, which insists its operations are above board, and within the confines of the country’s mining laws, has since written to Zanu PF Matabeleland provincial leadership requesting protection from the villagers.