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Two killed after fracas at mining area

by PST Correspondent and Guardian ReporterGuardian
July 22nd, 2005

Two people have been killed and property destroyed after a fracas pitting villagers against police and operatives of the Placer Dome-owned North Mara Gold Mine erupted in Tarime District, Mara Region.

A young man, one Marwa Nyasinge, was shot dead by police at 6.00 pm while a company car that was carrying the Mining firm employees who were fleeing from the scene of the shooting knocked Bhoke Maseke a few minutes later.

Eyewitnesses told The Guardian yesterday that the boy who was shot dead was walking past the company premises when company security guards, suspecting him of stealing oil, stopped him.

When the boy failed to heed the order, the guards called the police who, before even questioning him, shot him in the chest.

The report on the killing angered the Kewanja villagers who rioted, protesting against the operations of the mining company in the area.

As fate would have it, a company vehicle ferrying fleeing officials, knocked down another villager, Bhoke Maseke, killing her on the spot.

The rioting villagers set on fire the camp, five motor vehicles, a water tank, four generators, drilling caterpillar and four containers that continued burning until yesterday evening.

The bodies of the deceased were taken to the villages ready for burial today.

The Mara Police Commander Paul Ntobi was not available for comments as his phone was not reachable.

Meanwhile, the Lawyers Environmental Action Team (LEAT) has condemned the killing demanding an immediate sack of the Mara Regional Police Commander and Tarime District Commissioner Paschal Mabiti over the incident.

The Acting LEAT Executive Director, Tundu Lissu, said the two government officials have since 2003 been charged in the Human Rights Commission with serious human rights violations and abuse of power.

Lissu also demanded the formation of an independent commission of inquiry to investigate the killings and for the arrest and prosecution of all those directly and indirectly involved in the fatal shooting.

The commission should constitute representatives of national and international human rights organisations, religious leaders, prominent human rights lawyers and prominent citizens of unimpeachable integrity and independence.

’’The present government lacks the credibility necessary for an impartial inquiry,’’ he said. The Acting LEAT Executive Director alleged that the government has failed to investigate past allegations on human rights abuses, including killings of innocent villagers, in such places as Bulyanhulu, Geita and Tarime itself.

The Nyabigena and Nyabirama areas form part of the huge North Mara Gold Mine, owned by the Canadian mining giant Place Dome since July 2003.

In 2001, thousands of villagers were forcibly evicted from the Nyabigena site without being paid lawful compensation and hundreds were arrested and subsequently handed long-term prison sentences for resisting the eviction.

Most of them have been freed after the High Court of Tanzania quashed their convictions on appeal.

SOURCE: Guardian


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