Police have arrested over 6 000 artisanal miners in 11 months for violence and environmental degradation.
Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Deputy Minister Michael Madiro said this last week during the National Assembly’s Question and Answer Session.
He was responding to legislators who sought to know what police were doing to arrest the illegal gold panners after machete gangs had become a menace to the public.
Deputy Minister Madiro said police have launched an operation to end illegal gold mining activities across the country.
“In this regard, it is interesting to note that from March 4, 2019 to date, 6 229 illegal artisanal miners and 1 922 offenders were arrested and either made to pay fines or referred to court for possessing dangerous weapons,” he said.
Deputy Minister Madiro said police were also conducting spot checks to arrest people found with machetes, knives, weapons, iron bars and other dangerous weapons that can be used to murder, rob and harm innocent people since all provinces have now issued prohibition orders against the carrying of dangerous weapons.
Deputy Minister Madiro said Government was aware that illegal miners were not just harming citizens, but the environment as well.
“I concur with him that illegal artisanal miners are not only committing violent crimes such as murder, robbery, rape and assault, but are also causing serious environmental degradation. These encompass soil erosion, deforestation, loss of biodiversity as well as contamination of soil, ground and surface water caused by chemicals emitted from the illegal mining activities,” he said.
Deputy Minister Madiro said police were lobbying for deterrent penalties for the violent gangs.
“The Zimbabwe Republic Police is engaging the Judiciary through its commanders at national level, provincial and district levels to impose stiffer penalties on perpetrators of violent crimes and mines and minerals offenders,” he said.
“With regards to non-availability of vehicular resources at police stations, this is what the Government is attending to. There are many other stations which do not have such resources, but action is being taken to make sure that we avail such vehicular resource to stations.”