Police in Gbarnga, Bong County, have formally charged 67 persons with multiple crimes for allegedly vandalizing and looting MNG-Gold facilities in the aftermath of a vehicle accident that resulted in the death of four persons in Sayeweh Town, Kokoyah Statutory District.
On Monday, November 5, a vehicle belonging to a Chinese company hired by MNG-Gold was involved in an accident that resulted into the death of four persons near Sayeweh Town, and the vehicle was reportedly burned by angry residents.
According to the Commander of the Crime Services Division of the Liberia National Police (LNP) John Kelenso Flomo, the suspects, who include 64 men and three women, were charged with armed robbery, rioting, arson, burglary, criminal conspiracy, criminal mischief, terroristic threat, and theft of property, and have been sent to court after preliminary investigations linked them to the commission of the crimes in the looting and vandalism of the company’s properties.
Inspector Flomo told the Daily Observer that two other suspects were also picked up on Monday, November 12, following a careful review of a video footage from a CCTV security camera. They, too, are being investigated by the police.
“On Tuesday, November 6, police initially nabbed 55 persons, based on careful review of video footage from CCTV security cameras, and as long as investigation in the vandalism of the company’s facilities last, we will continue to arrest people suspected of taking part in the riot for questioning,” Flomo said.
The gold rich community, located in Kokoyah Statutory District, in Bong County, hosts the largest mining installation of the MNG Gold.
The Turkish Mining firm took over from the American-Liberian Mining Company (AmLib) in 2013, and began mining gold in the area in August 2015, after acquiring a permit from the government.
Under the Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) signed between AmLib and the Liberian government in 2005, the company is required to pay US$12,000 to the residents as social benefits and ensure that their lives are protected from chemical exposure.
Speaking to the Daily Observer via mobile phone, the company’s Community Relations Manager, Benedict Sayeh, said that it will take the company months to reopen due to the extent of the damage it suffered at the hands of the suspects, noting, “millions of United States Dollars worth of properties were destroyed in a short space of time; so to reopen, it will take us months; how many months I don’t know.”
Mr. Sayeh named some of the damaged facilities as the main office, the gold processing plant and a high school that the company constructed for use by the residents’ school-going children.
“Our worry right now is that a deadly chemical that is often used to process the gold was made away with by the looters; that chemical is so poisonous that it would take away the life of any creature in an instant,” Mr. Sayeh said.
Many of the residents, who spoke to this newspaper, said they regretted the incident, noting that the prolonged closure of the company will put hundreds of locals out of job.