Concern over escalating mine disasters

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THE Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has implored artisanal miners to employ safety measures when conducting mining activities, following the death of three miners last week after their shafts collapsed.

National police spokesperson Paul Nyathi’s remarks came in the wake of mining accidents, some of them fatal, that took place last week in Bulawayo, Kwekwe and Chinhoyi.

“A 43-year-old man died at Criterion Farm, Bulawayo when the mine shaft he was working in collapsed while he was inside. His body has since been retrieved. In a related case a 20-year-old man is suspected to have been trapped at an illegal mine shaft in Chinhoyi. Information at hand suggests that three people were initially trapped but two were rescued. The public should employ safety measures when conducting mining activities,” Nyathi said.

In the Kwekwe incident, two illegal artisanal miners died and two others were injured at Globe and Phoenix Mine.

Meanwhile, the police have been battling to deal with the scourge of machete-wielding illegal miners across the country, which saw it launching “Operation No Machete Wielding Gangs” and “Chikorokoza Ngachipere,” which has so far netted more than 2 000 people.

The on-going operation has also seen the arrest of illegal miners in Penhalonga, Matobo, Kadoma, Kwekwe, Mazowe and Shamva, among other places.
Last week, Nyathi also confirmed the arrest of more suspects in Shamva and Odzi in Mutare.

“Eleven people were arrested in Shamva for theft of gold ore and 59kg of gold ore was recovered, while 11 others were arrested in Odzi for illegal gold panning. The accused persons will be referred to court soon,” Nyathi said.

Most of the machete-wielding gang members have been denied bail for security reasons.

The High Court recently denied bail to at least seven machete gang members, who were reportedly involved in the murder of Kadoma police constable Wonder Hokoyo in December last year.

High Court judge Amy Tsanga ruled that they were not suitable candidates for bail.
The other suspect a 14-year-old boy, was freed on bail.

“Weapons were recovered from two others. Moreover the applicants are said not to be permanently resident at the given address. It would not be in the interest of justice to release them on bail when they have tenuous ties to the place of residence,” Tsanga said, before dismissing the gang’s bail application.

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