TWO illegal gold panners drowned in Dande River in Guruve on Friday while trying to escape from Eureka Mine security guards, NewsDay has heard.

They were identified as Leanmore Muroiwa and Moses Thomas.

Mashonaland Central police spokesperson Inspector Milton Mundembe confirmed the incident and said the bodies were retrieved on Saturday morning.

By the time NewsDay arrived at the scene, a group of villagers had vandalised property at the mine and severely assaulted police officers in protest against the security guards’ actions.

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A witness, Collins Gwakwe, said the group was mobilised by Muroiwa village head Obert Muroiwa and attacked the security guards and police following the death of the two who are both his relatives.

“The village head mobilised a group of 16 people soon after hearing that his relatives drowned while running away from the guards. The group approached the police officers and demanded to see the guards, but were not shown where the guards were and they then assaulted the cops who fled in different directions,” Gwakwe said.

“After the departure of the cops, some proceeded to the guards’ lodgings and took away their belongings which they set ablaze, company offices were destroyed, laptops and cellphones were looted while the mine’s excavator windows were smashed.”

Muroiwa and his accomplices were later arrested and appeared in court at the weekend. They were remanded out of custody to January 16.