A RANGER with the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority lost his AK47 with 15 rounds of ammunition to illegal gold panners in Chimanimani under as yet unclear circumstances on Tuesday this week.
The ranger, William Kamanga (35) is battling for life at Mutambara Mission Hospital in Chimanimani East after the illegal panners hit him on the head with a machete as they were wrestling with him.
The incident happened in an area managed by the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management.
“The information we are getting is that Kamanga had arrested an illegal gold panner Liberty Musweweshiri. Kamanga was reportedly in the company of another parks ranger David Tinago when the incident happened. The arrested illegal panner is said to have wrestled with Kamanga before seven other illegal panners joined the fight,” a source told The Manica Post.
The AK47 gun discharged two rounds of ammunition as they were wrestling.
“The illegal panners managed to disarm Kamanga and disappeared with the AK47 gun which had 15 rounds of ammunition. But before they disappeared they hit Kamanga twice on the head with a machete. He was rushed to Mutambara Mission Hospital where he is receiving treatment,” added the source.
Musweweshiri is suspected to have fled to Musanditevera — a no man’s land area in Chimanimani between the Zimbabwean and Mozambican border.
“It is still a mystery how the illegal panners successfully disarmed a ranger with a loaded AK47. We suspect the rangers connived with the illegal panners and a misunderstanding could have led to what happened in this instance,” said the source.
Chimanimani is very rich in gold. It also has diamonds and is a tourist attraction because of its scenic mountains.
Illegal panners have besieged the Chimanimani mountains in search of gold for sometime now causing serious environmental damage.
No immediate comment could be obtained from the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority spokesperson Mr Tinashe Farawo. National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed the development yesterday.
“We are investigating a case of robbery of a firearm from a Zimparks official in Chimanimani. It is alleged the incident occurred after the officer and his colleague arrested a suspect who wanted to influence the official to allow him extract gold illegally. After being arrested a group of seven illegal panners came and wrestled with the officer. They took away the rifle (AK47),” he said.