The head of a gold panner from Bulawayo’s Nkulumane suburb was left hanging by a shred of flesh following a savage attack in a fight over gold in Mphoengs, Plumtree.
Ficson Mkandla was killed on Saturday in the vicious confrontation pitting a gang from Insuza, in Matabeleland North and another from Nkayi, in the same province.
Chronicle yesterday visited Mkandla’s home where his elder brother Collen narrated the grisly killing. A group of gold panners were also present to mourn their colleague.
Collen said the family was devastated and saddened by his younger brother’s gruesome death.
“I’m based in South Africa. I wasn’t there when this incident occurred but will only narrate what I was told by his friends and my other brother who escaped the fatal attack.
“I’m told a gold war erupted in Mphoengs on Saturday where these guys from Nkayi, which my brother is part of, were involved in an altercation with a gang from Insuza.
“The gang from Insuza were overpowered during the scuffle and escaped only to emerge later with reinforcements,” said Mr Mkandla.
He said the gang from Insuza ambushed his brother’s team who were already panning for gold in shafts.
Mr Mkandla said as Ficson’s team retreated, he was struck with a stone on the head.
“The Insuza gang was in hot pursuit. The gang pounced and axed him on the head, splitting his skull open and nearly decapitating him.
“He had four deep cuts and his hand was also nearly cut off. He died at the scene. It was a horrific scene and sadly no one has been made to account for his death,” said Mr Mkandla.
He said his brother’s body was only retrieved on Sunday afternoon after the involvement of the police.
Mr Mkandla said it’s the second time within a year that his brothers have been attacked and left for dead in gold wars.
Mr Mkandla said one of his brothers had his arm and a leg amputated six months ago in another scuffle.
“The sad thing is that the person behind this is well known. He lives in Bulawayo in Old Pumula suburb. His name is Patson and law enforcement agents have been told about him but he seems to be untouchable we don’t know why,” said Mr Mkandla.
“He is the one hiring gangs to assault other miners. He no longer gets his hands dirty but the boys are saying that he is the one responsible for all the violence in gold mining areas in Plumtree.
“We call on police to take decisive action because we are losing our brothers, our relatives and family men who are trying to earn a living.”
Matabeleland South police spokesperson Chief Inspector Philisani Ndebele was yesterday not reachable for comment on his mobile phone.