ANOTHER CASE of Military brutality and abuse of duty have once again been witnessed at Takorase, a small mining community in the Amansie West District, when a team of military personnel opened fire at defenceless civilians in the village, for protesting against the arrest of the assembly member of the community.
The rioting was reportedly instigated by the management of a local mining company.
The soldiers, numbering over seven, reportedly opened fire in a confrontation with the angry civilians of the village, who had barricaded the road linking the community with the mining site to prevent vehicular movements, in demand of the release of their assembly member, Mr. Joseph Amponsah.
About seventeen of the victims, who sustained various degrees of injuries as a result of the military shoot out, are currently receiving treatment at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi.
Narrating their ordeal to The Chronicle in an interview, the Assembly Member said on Thursday January 15, 2009, a worker of the mining company, Madranns Mining Company, Kwabena Amanfo had a disagreement with a resident of the village, called Kwame Krah, after the latter questioned the former over why his company had prevented members of the community from embarking on their small scale mining operation, locally known as “Galamsey”.
Kwabena Amanfo reportedly slapped Kwame Krah, who also retaliated, resulting in a physical exchange between the two, after which the assembly member intervened to settle the matter.
Still not satisfied, Kwabena Amanfo threatened to deal with the people of the community and allegedly reported to the management of his company that the youth in the village had threatened to march to the mining site and set the whole premise ablaze.
Mr. Amponsah continued that three days after the incident, two military and two policemen came to his house late in the night to arrest him, because his people had threatened to set the company ablaze.
Not even the plea by the assembly member that it was late, and that he should be allowed to report to the station the next day. The team of security personnel insisted that he (Amponsah) should follow them to the police station.
Upon hearing the arrest of their assembly member, who was detained till the next day, the youth in the community mounted a blockade in the middle of the road to prevent the company's vehicle, which shuttles the workers of the company daily from the mining site at Takorase to Datano, in protest against the detention of the assembly member.
An eye witness and a victim of the incident told the paper that when the company bus got to the barrier on Monday afternoon, the youth insisted on knowing the reason why the company had caused the arrest of their assembly member, before they would allow the vehicle to move.
At this juncture, about seven military men, who were escorting the bus started firing shots into the crowd while the angry youth also reacted by pelting the bus with stones and sticks.
In their bid to teach the community a lesson, the trigger happy military men chased the people to a nearby town after which six of them left, while one kept on firing until he ran out of bullet.
Upon seeing that the soldier had ran out of bullet, the angry youth pounced on the “lone ranger”, beating him mercilessly until he was saved by some opinion leaders.
The assembly member, Mr. Amponsah, said few days after the incident, the Divisional Police Commander at Bekwai called the two parties to a meeting to amicably settle the matter, during which the company agreed to take care of the medical expenses of the victims, including other costs.
He said since then, the community had not heard anything from the company, compelling them to make public, the dastardly attack by the company and the military men.
Meanwhile, a representative of the company, who was spotted at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, Alhaji Baba, said the company had constantly suffered atrocities from the youth of the community.
He stated that he was at the hospital to see to the medical arrangements of the victims. Alhaji Baba stated that after the unfortunate incident, the youth had visited the mining site and robbed them of their precious minerals.
He denied that the claim by the youth that the company was preventing the people from embarking on 'galamsey' activities in the area, saying the area formed part of the mining firm's concession allocated to them by the government.