Shakespeare Marange, 26, wrapped the gems in black insulation tape and stuffed them down the pen’s barrel while on his shift as an electrician at the Mbada diamond mining company’s plant in Marange, eastern Zimbabwe this month. At the end of his shift he had pass through a scanner before going home. “Marange passed through the scan where it was noted that he had stolen something,” the Manica Post said.
The man has appeared in court in the eastern city of Mutare charged with theft and possessing diamonds without a permit. Mbada is one of the biggest companies operating in Marange district, the scene of a bloody clampdown in 2008 which saw around 200 villagers and illegal diggers killed when the military wrested control of the diamond fields from locals.
Smuggling of diamonds from Marange, much of it believed to be organised by well-connected syndicates, is an ongoing concern. A Canadian watchdog said in 2013 that diamonds worth US2 billion had been smuggled out of the country since 2008. President Robert Mugabe’s government announced earlier this month that it would nationalise all diamond mining firms.