AT least 186 more illegal miners were arrested on Monday in Odzi, Manicaland Province bringing to 2 323 the total number of illegal miners who have so far been arrested countrywide in the ongoing “Operation Chikorokoza Ngachipere”, a police blitz aimed at restoring law and order in the mining communities.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said the operation would continue until sanity prevails.
“The cumulative number of people who have been arrested in the ongoing operation against illegal mining activities and machete gangs has risen to 2 323. This follows the arrest of 186 people at Premier Estate in Odzi (on Monday).
“Those arrested are currently being screened at ZRP Penhalonga,” said Assistant Commissioner Nyathi.
He said some of the suspects arrested also include vendors and others who were dealing in drugs, among other illegal activities.
The raid was conducted around 5am by the police.
“We are moving in swiftly to all parts of the country where there are machete gangs, illegal miners, selling and dealing in drugs, among other nefarious activities. We would want to urge the public to fully cooperate with the police during these operations,” Asst Comm Nyathi said.
He urged the public to continue supplying them with information that will lead to the arrest of machete gangs that have gone into hiding in some parts of the country.
Last week, 63 more illegal miners were arrested in Mashonaland Central Province.
Police also impounded three vehicles carrying gold ore and recovered compressors and generators at Kitsiyatota, Garati and Makusha mining areas.
Prostitution and drug abuse within mining areas were also on the increase, prompting police to move in and restore law and order, especially at Jumbo Mine in Mazowe, Kitsiyatota, Garati, Makusha and Shamva.
Since January 1, a total of 1 621 illegal gold miners were arrested in Mazowe and Shamva under the blitz.
About 30 arrests were made under “Operation No to Dangerous Weapons”, while 55 mills, 54 generators, 47 water pumps, nine machetes and 447 explosives were recovered.
Police are also making use of information communication technologies to curb criminal activities which are becoming more sophisticated.
Seven suspected machete makers, who were arrested recently at Siyaso in Mbare, Harare, on suspicion of supplying machetes to armed robbers and criminals in mining communities, were remanded in custody.
Following their arrest, police recovered 31 machetes during a raid in Mbare. Siyaso is a small-to-medium scale industry where a range of items are made and machetes cost between US$6 and US$10.