Machete attackers leader Taurai Mutandwa was shot dead on Thursday in a gun exchange with the police during a gold rush near David Whitehead in Chegutu.

Mutandwa, who was also known as Kwadez, was on the police wanted list allegedly for spearheading most of the machete-related crimes here. He was said to be the leader of the dangerous gang called “Team Barca”.

Chegutu District Development Coordinator Mr Tariro Tomu told The Herald yesterday that about seven people had been injured in machete wars between artisanal miners during the gold rush, while 33 had been arrested by Thursday.

“Gold was discovered on 12 November at a dumpsite near David Whitehead in a trench,” he said.

“There was a rush of miners. A total of seven people are said to have been injured in the attacks between the gold panners armed with some machetes.

“Police managed to disperse the gold panners and had to camp on the site. On Monday, there was an exchange of gunfire between the police and groups of artisanal miners.

“One person was shot on the leg and abandoned the vehicle, but was rescued by his colleagues who took him to Kadoma for treatment at a private clinic.”

Mr Tomu said police had engaged Chegutu RDC chairman Councillor Tatenda Gwinji to assist with equipment to close the pit, a mission that was accomplished on Wednesday.

“Taurai Mutandwa was shot dead during the gunfire that took place between the group and police on site, and so far more than 33 people have been arrested and five vehicles recovered.”

Chegutu West MP Dexter Nduna called upon artisanal miners to be patient and desist from violence while the authorities were working on paperwork to regularise their operations.

Zimbabwe Miners Federation youth chairman Mr Timothy Chizuzu condemned the use of machetes by artisanal miners and called for stiffer penalties on perpetrators. “As ZMF youths, we condemn the use of machetes on other citizens and fellow miners,” he said.

“This has tarnished the image of all miners and is against our ethics.

“Sanity should prevail in our mining industry as we support Government in boosting investor confidence. We appeal to Government to consider putting stiffer penalties for perpetrators.”

Mr Chizuzu proposed that perpetrators should not be granted bail, but get no less than five years in jail.