Machete Wars Hit Zimbabwe Goldfields

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“I wish I could leave this business,” says Dzikamai*, a dangerous-looking hood with a fresh wound on his face, just above the left eye, rolling a ‘twist’ of marijuana and staring me in the eye, trying to figure out if I’m not a cop.

“I was hit by a machete. Bothy’s crew didn’t want to kill me. They just ‘slapped’ me with a machete as a warning and told me to leave the mine,” he says.

A ‘slap’, he explains, is when a machete is applied at an angle so as to cut the skin but avoid hitting the bone and making a fatal blow. And he tells me that Bothy is a gangster who recently held the police to a two-week siege of the defunct state-owned Sabi Gold Mine, which has been taken over by hundreds of illegal gold hunters from as far afield as Mozambique.

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