About 18 miners accused of damaging property at the Chinese run Non Ferrous Metals Africa Corporation Chambishi mine in northern Zambia on February 9 this year have denied he charges.
The 18 miners were arrested by police for riotous behavior and damage to company property following protests on February 9 over wages and change of company name by the owners.
The 18 were jointly charged for riotously injuring buildings contrary to the Laws of Zambia. It is alleged that the 18 on February 9th 2011 jointly and whilst acting together riotously unlawfully damaged buildings and machines worth ZMK 430, 860,744.21, the property of Non Ferrous Corporation Africa Limited.
On February 18, the accused persons appeared in court over the matter and after they all denied the charge they were taken to Kamfinsa State Prison in Kitwe pending further appearances. The accused were due to appear for mention on February 21.
The accused miners Mr Kelvin Mwale, Mr Owen Chilupe, Mr Muller Munanko, Mr Mwiche Musonda, Mr Mumbe Phiri, Mr Charles Kabwita, Mr Ernest Chisale, Mr Nyumbai Dauti, Mr Evans Mambwe and Mr Kyoma Kyoma. Others include Mr Paul Mubanga, Mr Joseph Chapuswike, Mr Edward Chileshe, Mr Kalubeto Chikaka, Mr Mark Kaluba, Mr Oswald Maleki and Mr Patrick Mwimbe.
They are said to have rioted over wages and change of the company name in which they were alleged to have caused damage to three underground loaders and looted property. The action was believed to have emanated from the ongoing impasse over wages and decision by management to change the name from NFCA to JCHX.
Recently, National Union of Miners and Allied Workers general secretary Goodwell Kaluba confirmed the arrest of some of the miners, loss of property and that some more miners were being pursued by police for riotous behavior over the incident on February 9.
Last month management was embroiled in differences with workers over wages and the renaming of the NFCA company to JCHX which workers said had resulted in some colleagues losing employment, resulting in the employees staging a peaceful demonstration on.
An earlier statement by the union and company deputy CEO Mr Xu Ruiyong had urged the workers to resume work. The company had initially stated that it regretted the misunderstanding over the new company. It added that the JCHX Construction Limited was merely meant to undertake all mining operations at the company and not a change of ownership or closure as was feared by the workers.
The formation of the company was purely administrative and that it would not in anyway disadvantage or alter the status quo of all the employees concerned in terms of conditions of service as was feared, adding that it was misinformation that led to the peaceful demonstration by the workers on January 18.
The statement said that it is our sincere hope and humble appeal that the foregoing will clarify the matter at hand. Management and NUMAW pledged to resolve the matter including the reported dismissals of some of the workers that had already been paid off in the process.
Earlier, police in full riot gear had a tough time trying to maintain peace and order at the Chambishi mine where the workers had protested.