Four people die at a Zimbabwean gold mine by suspected cyanide poisoning.

– According to Nick, a man from the Mukaradzi mining region of Arcadia village became ill and complained of vomiting, chest pains, and breathing difficulties, he died the next day.

John Cassim

Harare, Zimbabwe – Following some alleged cyanide spills at Mukaradzi gold mine in Mt Darwin, 157 km north of the capital Harare, at least four people, including the village head, have died and one is severely ill.

This information was disclosed by Nick Mangwana, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, on his X account, stating that the death happened at Arcadia village.

“Last week four people died and a fifth is critically ill due to suspected chemical poisoning (i.e) cyanide or mercury at Arcadia village in Mt Darwin.

A male individual came from Mukaradzi mining area of Arcadia village sick, complaining of chest pains, difficulty in breathing as well as vomiting. He died the following day and three people including Sahwira the village head and his sister who directly came in contact with the deceased during the funeral and burial, all died the following day,” Nick Mangwana said on X formerly known as Twitter.

Nick went on to say that the seriously ill individual was the fourth person who had direct touch with the first deceased.

According to reports, the miners in Mukaradzi have been moved by the Zimbabwe Republic Police till further notice, in order to facilitate investigations.

The Ministry of Health, the Environmental Management Agency (EMA), and the police are currently the three main players tasked with urgently assessing the situation at this mine and adjacent mining regions.

However, many who follow Nick Mangwana’s X account have made contradictory suggestions, saying that cyanide does not kill in that manner.

Ethan Malibongwe Moyo said, “that is inconsistent with cyanide poisoning we need skilled people to handle such matters. Cyanide doesn’t operate that way.”

Another follower called Baba vaAfrica suggested of cholera.

Goodman Mlalazi also disputed claims of cyanide poisoning, “Cyanide doesn’t kill that way, it’s something else.”

Cholera outbreak

This tragic development has surfaced at a time when cholera is wreaking havoc in Zimbabwe and other neighboring countries, such as Malawi, following a cyclone that wrecked ablution facilities last year.

Since February this year Zimbabwe has reported 13,176 suspected cases of cholera in 52 districts as of December 25. 

Out of those, 221 are documented deaths and 1,606 confirmed cases.

The capital city of Harare continues to be the epicenter of cholera, with Kuwadzana leading the way and Glenview, Budiriro, and Chitungwiza following.

Rural areas in the country including Mukaradzi in Mt Darwin recorded cases of cholera recently in August, hence ordinary people are suggesting this could be cholera and not cyanide poisoning.

At Mukaradzi, cholera-related deaths have been documented since 2018.

Illegal mining at Mukaradzi

In the meantime, the Mukaradzi region is reputed to hold enormous gold reserves, and there are mining disturbances there, almost every three months.

The mine has seen a number of incidents, including one in June that forced its closure. Vice President Constantino Chiwenga only announced the mine’s reopening during a local rally in advance of the harmonised polls in August.

Many undocumented gold miners were detained by authorities last year after they used violence to fight over ownership of the mine.

The body of an unidentified man was discovered floating in water close to the Mukaradzi mine in June 2021.

Recently government approved funding of three mines including Mukaradzi, which some say is owned by top government officials.

“Cabinet is pleased to announce that government has released funds for the operationalization of three Gold Centre at Makaha in Mashonaland East, Mukaradzi in Mashonaland Central and Penhalonga in Manicaland Province,” Monica Mutsvangwa the then Information Minister said during a post cabinet media briefing on August 1.

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