900 illegal miners arrested . . . as police intensify crackdown on machete gangs
THE Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) yesterday swooped on over 900 suspected illegal miners in Shamva and Mazowe area, as it seeks to eliminate machete gangs and bring sanity in many mining towns. National police spokesperson Paul Nyathi said the arrests, which were carried out under operation “No Machete Wielding Gangs” and “Chikorokoza Ngachipere”, saw the police recovering cars and property worth thousands of dollars that was being used in the commission of various offences. Yesterday’s arrests bring the number to 1 276 of people who have been nabbed for either using dangerous weapons to commit crimes, partaking in illegal mining, selling food stuffs and illicit drugs in mining sites without licences and criminal trespass. “So far we have arrested 139 people in Shamva, 740 in Jumbo Mine and 28 in Mazowe Bridge. In Jumbo, the police recovered 18 motor vehicles, jack hammers, six generators, 56 explosives and 20 sachets of dagga. In Mazowe River, we recovered hammers, water pumps, spirits and wines. In Shamva, they recovered 35 water pumps, 3kgs
dagga, among other items,” Nyathi said. Mining towns have been turned into war zones by machete gangs, popularly known as maShurugwi, who are terrorising villagers and other groups of artisanal miners in turf and mineral grab wars. However, Nyathi yesterday said: “Most of the people were arrested because they are selling harmful drugs, mining gold without licences, criminal trespass and selling food stuffs and meat without the requisite licences. The police want to warn the public against failure to comply with laws of the country”. He said the current operation will be carried across the country. “It’s not confined to a particular area, it’s aimed at bringing sanity in all mining areas,”
he said. Political players have been blaming one another for allegedly sponsoring the machete gangs, an allegation, which Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi recently dismissed, demanding proof of such claims. “Whoever knows the political connections or is connected to the machete gangs must just come forward and provide evidence. He who alleges must prove. You cannot just walk around saying so and so is sponsoring the machete gangs without proof. There has to be proof for us to make that conclusion,” Ziyambi said.
The machete gangs recently killed police constable Wonder Hokoyo in Kadoma, while another group stormed a police station in Gwanda seeking to force the release of their arrested colleagues. Meanwhile, a gang of robbers armed with knives and a pistol yesterday pounced on a house in Harare’s Emerald Hill suburb and went away with US$11 500. “I confirm the police are investigating a case where two motor vehicles a Toyota Wish and a VW Golf which had no number plates were used as getaway cars in Emerald Hill. “It is alleged the robbers were armed with knives and a pistol. We are, however, still to verify some of the details relating to the case,” Nyathi said. He urged the public to step up security at their homes and to always be conscious and not to divulge their financial statuses to strangers. “I want to assure the public that these criminals moving around with vehicles with no number plates that they will be brought to book. “The criminals will only have themselves to blame when the full wrath of the law is applied against them,” Nyathi said.