Did Robert Mugabes security forces seize control of a lucrative diamond field by gunning down hundreds of miners? With shocking evidence now uncovered, Zimbabwe’s diamond trade faces suspension.
“We were told here are the guns, sitting in the truck, do you want to stay?” says Andrew Cranswick, CEO of the mining company who owns the rights to mine diamonds in Marange. After his company was evicted, the Marange fields were opened up to the people and tens of thousands of Zimbabweans came to dig, paying the police a commission. Yet the police didn’t always play fair – “$15 million worth of diamonds were confiscated”, says one former miner and soon the police were replaced by Mugabes own military. “Mugabe needed a way to buy the loyalty of the army” says Ken Roth, “the military were ordered to kill”.
In the first week of November, helicopter gunships launched a massacre on the Marange diamond fields. Evidence has been collected of 200 deaths. Those who weren’t killed were raped or crippled. “They told us if we wanted to go home we had to sleep with the men”, says one woman, “the soldiers watched and laughed”. Next month, the Kimberley process, the international body charged with stopping trade in conflict diamonds, will decide whether Zimbabwe should be suspended. Yet with many Western governments involved in Zimbabwe’s diamond trade, a former delegate of the Kimberley process believes this deadly business may yet be protected.