Mash Central Bureau
POLICE in Mashonaland Central Province have so far arrested 53 illegal artisanal miners and impounded 27 vehicles as they move in to get rid of criminal elements and bring sanity to the mining sector.
Some of the impounded vehicles that were parked at Mazowe Police Station during a tour of the mine on Wednesday are reported to have been used to transport illegal substances such as marijuana into the mining area, with some of them being used to carry out criminal activities such as armed robberies.
The move comes at a time when it is reported that a new investor will soon be taking over operations from Mettalon Gold at the gold rich mine Jumbo Mine. Management at the mine remained tight-lipped on the coming in of a new investor. On Wednesday, eight of the illegal artisanal miners were still being interrogated by the police when the news crew visited Mazowe Police Station.
Mashonaland Central provincial police spokesperson, Inspector Milton Mundembe, said the blitz on illegal artisanal mining areas is expected to clear some of the pending unsolved criminal cases being reported at the mines across the province.
“We managed to arrest 10 illegal miners at Kitsiyatota during a blitz from November 16 and 19. We also arrested 36 people at Jumbo (Mazowe) Mine during the same period.
“As you can see for yourself, we have just arrested seven more people. They are helping police with investigations,” he said.
“We have also managed to impound 27 vehicles which will be released after being cleared by the police. We hope the arrests will help us to clear some of the outstanding cases of armed robbery committed using these kind of vehicles which have no proper registration,” he said.
Insp Mundembe added: “President Mnangagwa declared war on machete wielding illegal miners, so our operation against crimes at illegal miners is a continuous process. We are also conducting searches on people and vehicles looking for dangerous weapons and other illegal substances being brought to the mine areas.
“We have issued a ban on the carrying of dangerous weapons which will expire in December 2019. The province has witnessed a number of heinous crimes allegedly being perpetrated by the infamous machete wielding illegal mining gangs and the one that easily comes to mind is the murder of two soldiers in Bindura early this year.”
Insp Mundembe warned the illegal artisanal miners to stay away from mining shafts following the onset of the rainy season as they risk being trapped inside.