Tanzanian police shoot dead two civilians at conflict-torn gold mine
For earlier article, see: Barrick Gold's Tanzanian "headache"
Tanzania: Police Fire Live Bullets At Civilians
By Mugini Jacob
Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)
1 September 2012
Tarime - ANTI-RIOT police have shot dead two civilians at the North Mara Gold Mine which is operated by African Barrick Gold (ABG) in the Northern Tarime District.
Mara Regional Police Commander for Tarime Special Police Zone, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Justus Kamugisha confirmed the latest killings at the mine.
Anti-riot police were forced to use live bullets after between 800 and 10,000 local people invaded the mine to grab gold sand on Thursday evening, according to ACP Kamugisha.
"Two people were shot dead during the invasion at the mine that occurred yesterday between 6:00 pm to 7:00pm. They were shot while in the mine pits," the ACP said.
The deceased have been identified as Paulo Sarya (26) and Rodgers Mwita (18), both from villages located near the mine which has been experiencing frequent attacks from local communities.
Another civilian identified as Mseti Mwita was seriously injured during the clashes. A police officer identified as E.6059 Corporal Julius was also injured by machetes during the mine latest invasion, which is said to have triggered heavy tension between the mine and the surrounding communities, according to reports from the scene.
Both Mwita and the police officers were rushed to Tarime District Hospital where they were until yesterday afternoon hospitalized and their condition is reported to be critical.
"It was raining and the invaders came from different villages shouting. They were armed with weapons such as stones, machetes and knives. I did not believe that such a huge number of people can invade the mine," ACP Kamugisha said.
Three vehicles belonging to the police force were also badly damaged by angry intruders who hurled stones at the police, according to him. ACP Kamugisha admitted that the shooting has worsened the situation at the area. He appealed to local communities to refrain from invading the mine to grab gold sand.
"Source of all this is the two young men who have been killed. But the investor (ABG) is operating the mine legally and there is no reason for people to invade the mine to grab gold sand," ACP noted.
Mara Regional Commissioner (RC) Mr John Tupa was reported to have rushed in[to] Tarime after getting information on the latest shootings at the mine which is guarded by police officers and dozens of private security guards 24 hours.
The killings occurred few weeks after Deputy Minister for Energy and Minerals, Mr Stephen Masele made a familiarization tour into the villages located near the mine and warned that the government will not tolerate to witness its citizens being killed unnecessarily at the mine.
Dozens of civilians have been killed at the troubled mine since 2002, when it was officially inaugurated by retired President Benjamin Mkapa.
In May, last year, five civilians were also shot death after hundreds of people invaded the mine and clashed with anti-riot police.
ABG, a Tanzania leading gold producer has been has been forced to construct a multi-million wall fence in a bid to boost security at the mine, according to its senior officials. The government has also been planning to remove its cops from the mine, but it is still not clear whether the plan will be implemented if the situation remains tense in the area.
The Canadian giant miner (ABG) * has also been putting in place various initiatives meant to improve the relations with the local communities in recent years. They included signing of a new 10 million US dollars (about 16 bil/-) taped Village Benefits Implementation Agreement (VBIA), with the aim of improving social services in the areas around the mine.
The three years deal was signed by village governments and the mine late last year. The package of money will be mainly invested in education, health and water sectors, according to local leaders.
Ordinary people, local leaders as well as Tarime authorities welcomed the VBIA, predicting that they might help to make their conflicts between the mine and local communities, a thing of the past.
* MAC editorial note: ABG has its primary listing on the London Stock Exchange, although its majority owner is Canada's Barrick Gold. Shortly before the killings reported above, Barrick announced that it was looking for a buyer of ABG.
Dow Jones: Tanzania Police Investigate Fatal Clashes at North Mara Gold Mine
Dow Jones Newswires
3 September 2012
KAMPALA, Uganda--Tanzania police said Monday they are investigating after two people were shot dead in clashes at North Mara Gold Mine, in the latest skirmishes to hit the troubled mining operation.
North Mara is one of four mines operated by London-listed African Barrick Gold PLC, the country's largest gold producer. African Barrick is a unit of Canada-based Barrick Gold Corp.
Police guards at the mine fired at a group of 800-1,000 area residents who invaded the mine Thursday night to steal gold ore, Tarime regional police commander Justus Kamugisha said.
Two locals died and another was wounded, while at least one police guard was also hurt by the machete-wielding intruders, Mr. Kamugisha said.
"Investigations into the incident are still going on," Mr. Kamugisha said. "The police used reasonable force to disperse the intruders." A company spokesman couldn't immediately comment on the incident.
The clashes highlight worsening relations between area residents and the mine.
Residents have stormed North Mara several times in clashes that have killed about dozen people, including at least five who died last year when police guards fired at intruders.
Company officials have said at least 200-300 people trespass on the mine's license areas every day to carry out illegal mining, and large numbers of people often pour into the area when the company blasts high-grade ore around the mine pits.
The company blames the intrusions on criminal gangs. Local activists say poverty in villages around the mine is to blame.
Last month Barrick Gold Corp. said it was in talks to sell a large portion of its interests in African Barrick to China National Gold Group Corp. in a deal that analysts say could fetch as much as $3.9 billion. African Barrick produces about 700,000 ounces of gold a year, ranking it among Africa's top five gold producers.