By NQOBANI NDLOVU
THE State has withdrawn the public violence charge against a Hwange activist who had been accused of leading a protest against a Chinese company carrying out coal-mining operations in Dinde.
Never Tshuma, the Dinde Residents Association vice-chairperson, was arrested in April for leading a protest against the coal-mining project in the area.
Tshuma was barred from visiting Dinde, his home area, as part of his bail conditions.
His lawyer Gerald Musengi confirmed to Southern Eye that the State had withdrawn charges against his client citing lack of evidence.
“The circumstances were primarily that the complainants felt they could not pursue the matter anymore,” Musengi said.
The proposed Beifa Investment Company coal-mining project evoked anger in the Dinde community.
Recently, Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs minister Richard Moyo and Mines minister Winston Chitando led a government delegation to the area to convince villagers to allow the project to take off.
Beifa Investment has repeatedly said its operations are above board, and within the confines of the country’s mining laws.
“All the paperwork done by Beifa Investments (Pvt) Ltd is above board and the company is in strict adherence with the law,” said Beifa Investments (Pvt) Ltd project manager Zhou Zheng Qian in a statement.
“Beifa Investments has not evicted anyone or shown any intention to evict anyone within the Dinde community.
“Beifa Investments respects the customs and values of the communities it operates in and it has never been the company’s wish to unsettle or violate such customs and values … categorically denies ever desecrating any graves in the Dinde community as alleged or at all.”
The company once wrote to the Zanu PF Matabeleland provincial leadership requesting protection from its members that were inciting villagers’ to protest against the firm’s coal mining operations.