The attempted assignation of Sierra Leone’s Mines Minister has raised serious concerns over mining deals with Chinese company Leone Rock (Kinghoo Mining Ltd). Sierra Leone’s Minister of Mines, Timothy Kabba has been involved in a fatal car accident that has resulted in life-threatening injuries including multiple broken bones on his legs and other parts of his body, in what has been described as an ‘assassination attempt’, amid a looming showdown over the West African country’s fabled mineral riches involving rival companies, including a Chinese backed company Leone Rock (Kinghoo Mining Ltd) who sits on a mountain of iron ore.
Timothy Kabba’s car was “attacked” in what may have been an assassination attempt amid pending mineral deals, according to multiple sources. The Minister of Mines’ car was hit on its right front wheel where the Minister was seated, as he was traveling on the Bo-Kenema highway. He suffered multiple broken legs and has been flown abroad for emergency medical surgery.
It has been reported that the attack on Minister Kabba was an attempt to get rid of him to give the Chinese a free ride into the mining sector as they have already corrupted the sector with bribes to certain government officials. However, others have urged caution in apportioning blame and have requested a probe into what really happened. Minister Kabba has been known to be outspoken against the exploitation of the country’s mineral resources by foreign investors with little or no benefits to the people of Sierra Leone. He has also pursued powerful figures seeking to grant mining deals to the Chinese-backed company Leone Rock (Kinghoo Mining Ltd).
The attack coincides with the Minister signing a contract with the new company to take over the Pepel Rail and Port. A concerned citizen working in the Mines told this writer he had received information from a source on Wednesday about an assassination attempt on Timothy Kabba. He said associates of the Minister had been given this information and advice to take security precautions.
An undercover media investigation committee has recently focused on a group of powerful Chinese officials headed by the former Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone Mr. Wu Peng, who now heads the powerful Chinese Africa regional group (Director-General of the Department of African Affairs of the Foreign Ministry, in Beijing, China). Ambassador Wu Peng is said to be seeking Chinese interest in trading minerals and making exploitative investments in Africa under the pretext of diplomatic relations. Ambassador Peng is currently in Sierra Leone, allegedly pushing for the government to grant a mining deal to the Chinese-backed company Leone Rock (Kinghoo Mining Ltd). There are reports are that many top government officials have been bribed and corrupted, but Minister Timothy Kabba has refused to take bribes.
Certain media reports are stating that Minister Kabba was also a central figure during negotiations for the multi-billion Pepel Port and Pepel –Tonkolili Railway Development expansion and Management lease agreement with a company called ARISE Integrated Industrial Platforms Ltd. The deal has been completed and a notice of 6 months’ termination has been given to Kingho (Leone Rock) to vacate the port and rail facilities, the notice will expire on the 10th of July. and ARISE will assume the operations and management of the port and rail as an independent rail and port operator, which will liberalize the port and rail and give more revenue to the government of Sierra Leone. In a letter dated the 10th of January 2023, the Attorney General issued a termination notice of the lease agreement between the Government of Sierra Leone and Kingho Railway and Port Company Limited. On March 1, 2023, this media reported on the mafia tactics Kingho was using to engage in corrupt activities in the West African state, we also reported that the company has been acting like a mafia organization in its attempt to secure mining deals with the government of Sierra Leone using millions of dollars surreptitiously to bribe its way with little or no transparency and a complete lack of accountability. The company’s failure to make a meaningful impact on the mining sector despite the more than eight small and large-scale exploration and mining licenses given to them has raised serious eyebrows and has left the government with a huge debt to the tune of over four million dollars.
After closely observing what has been happening, the people of Sierra Leone are extremely concerned about what is seen as a defiant approach by the Chines government and all those involved in reversing the lawful assumption of control of the port and railway by ARISE Integrated Industrial Platforms Ltd. who are now the legitimate authority to run the operations of the port and railway. If the life of the minister responsible has come under such blatant attack, one wonders what plans the Chinese mafia has up its sleeve in its quest to eliminate all those in the way of Kingho and have control once more of the port and railway in Tonkolili.
The report also stated that sources close to the Minister possess evidence that the plot involved Chinese interest and had received the Chinese government’s blessing. There are also reports that a high-level delegation from China including the President of Kinghoo Mining Ltd (Leone Rock) and Ambassador Wu Peng (Director-General of the Department of African Affairs of the Foreign Ministry, in Beijing, China) is currently in the country to execute the said plan and to ensure the rail and port are retained by Kignho.
A close colleague of the Minister said: “I condemn the incident of the assassination attempt, in the strongest words. We are calling on the government for an immediate report on the incident. I pray for the recovery and health of the Minister.” Media reports observed that the battle for mineral rights “could prove a test case in Sierra Leone where natural resources make up the majority of exports but have tended to
generate strife rather than prosperity.’’ Sierra Leone, home to one of the world’s largest mineral deposits of Iron Ore, is heading to a fiercely contested presidential election. Top political figures are allegedly linked to the Chinese-backed company Leone Rock (Kinghoo Mining Ltd).
The current President of Sierra Leone, Julius Maada Bio has been credited for bringing reform to the mining sector. The President is seeking a better deal for the country and President is thought to be supporting the Minister of Mines, Timothy Kabba. The source told this writer “Timothy faces an uphill battle; bribery and corruption are deeply ingrained in the Chinese business model.” “The attack on the Minister of Mines will have serious repercussions for the Bio government and in particular for the mining sector,” John Thomas, senior consultant in the Mining sector, said by e-mail today. “The attack on the Minister may encourage a power struggle among politicians keen to fill the void and create an open field for a Chinese cartel to exploit the poor West African mineral-rich country.”
Not everyone is happy about the government’s plan to bring a third-party port and rail infrastructure expert to manage the Pepel rail and port. Local news reports say Leone Rock Metal Group plans to sue the government for terminating the six-year lease agreement to manage and operate the port.
In an exclusive interview conducted recently with a renowned international journalist and blogger, Vickie Remoe, Minister Kabba expressed his determination to fight on behalf of the people of Sierra Leone to secure a good mining deal. The Minister, however, expressed
concern about his safety but said was prepared to ‘’die’’ to save the mining sector. Here’s the article/interview with Vickie Remoe:
Citizens have called for the government to order a probe into the fatal attack. The Sierra Leone police have not issued any statement regarding the motivations of the attack.
This is an investigative report by report by Newstime Africa, we have reached out to Kingho and the Chinese embassy for a response to these serious allegations and we await a response! We will update our report as soon as we get an official response.