Mwadui diamonds heist: Revealed: Robbers did it with toy guns


JF-Expert Member
Feb 11, 2007
Mwadui diamonds heist: Revealed: Robbers did it with toy guns

-Police make six arrests so far
-Growing fears of an ’Inside job’

Dar es Salaam

POLICE have released new details from Thursday’s early morning raid on the Williamson Diamond Mine in Shinyanga Region that suggest the gang of up to 25 robbers were armed with only toy guns when starting to pull off the heist.

Authorities have also announced the arrest of six unnamed suspects believed to have taken part in the raid, in which the robbers took mine workers hostage and snatched a loaded shotgun from a security guard at the mine, before making off with an unspecified amount of diamonds.

’’A group of between 20 to 25 men carried out the robbery�we have so far arrested six suspects but expect to make more arrests in the next few days,’’ the Shinyanga regional Police Commander, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Shaibu Ibrahim, told THISDAY by phone.

’’We now believe the bandits used toy guns to carry out their mission, and dumped two of their wooden ’guns’ before making their getaway with the diamonds,’’ the RPC added.

He said the gang members also abandoned the loaded firearm they had seized from one of the mine’s security guards using their toy guns.

’’We are continuing with our investigations. At this juncture, I would like to urge members of the public to cooperate with the police in this investigation...we are relying very much on the society to provide us with information on these bandits,’’ Shaibu said.

The regional police chief declined to give the identities of the suspects already under police arrest, or confirm the actual value of the diamonds stolen in the heist.

But other well-placed sources have told THISDAY that the raid on the diamond mine had all the hallmarks of an inside job.

Reports from the mine said the robbers took hostage some workers on the Wednesday night shift and swiftly gathered the diamonds mined during the day’s production process.

Police confirmed that the gang used one of the heavy duty wheel-loader vehicles at the mine site to break into a diamond sorting room and steal the gemstones.

The mine currently employs 1,116 staff (including contractors) and a small contingent of expatriates from South Africa (about ten in number).

The Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI), Commissioner of Police Robert Manumba, told THISDAY that the bandits had ordered the mine workers to lie on the ground and commandeered the wheel-loader vehicle, which they used to break into the diamond sorting room.

Located in Shinyanga’s Kishapu District, the Williamson diamond mine is now majority owned by the South African diamond giant De Beers (75 per cent ownership), with the government retaining the remaining 25 per cent.

Also known as the Mwadui mine, it is a proven rich source of real-thing diamonds, and has produced numerous notable examples including a 54-carat flawless pink diamond and a 388-carat diamond found in 1990.

Although the Mwadui mine is now reported to have become a loss-making operation, industry experts say the mine still has enormous potential and economic viability.
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