Freeman Razemba Crime Reporter
AN Illegal panner was arrested last week after being trapped by mud in a mineshaft in Chiadzwa with police recovering five kilogrammes of diamond ore.
Tapiwa Mago Ncube (31) was arrested by police officers and Mbada Diamonds security officials who were patrolling at around 1am after they heard him calling for help.
Chief police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba confirmed the arrest.
“He was arrested for prospecting for diamonds without a licence or permit. Police and Mbada Diamonds security officials who were on patrol heard the accused calling for help,” she said.
“They went to investigate and found the accused trapped by some mud in a shaft. Accused was in possession of approximately five kilogrammes of diamond ore and an iron bar. He failed to produce a permit.”
Snr Asst Comm Charamba said Ncube was referred to court and was sentenced to two years imprisonment. Last week police arrested 168 illegal diamond panners in Chiadzwa for trespassing into the protected fields as law enforcement agents sealed off the area under “Operation Hakudzokwi”.
The arrests came after the recent deaths of three illegal panners who were trapped after a mining shaft they were working on collapsed on the banks of Makodzi River.
This follows Government’s move to comply with a court order for Mbada Diamonds (Pvt) Limited security team to return to the diamond mining site to secure its gems and equipment.
Since moving back, Mbada Diamond’s security personnel have partnered law enforcement agents in flushing out the illegal panners who are flocking to the vast diamond fields in their hundreds.
Meanwhile, police in Bulawayo arrested six people for theft of 5,5kg of gold ore containing visible gold nuggets at Collation North Mine last week.
Snr Asst Comm Charamba said the ore was crushed and 1,5kg pure gold was realised after processing.
“The accused persons sold the gold and used the proceeds they realised to buy cars. Detectives recovered $5 500, three vehicles and three metal detectors from the accused person upon their arrest,” she said.
Meanwhile, a 32-year-old man was arrested at Beitbridge Border Post for smuggling goods from South Africa into Zimbabwe using a Toyota Quantum.
“The motor vehicle valued at 180 000 rand has been impounded and the driver is assisting police with investigations. Police will not rest until those involved in nefarious activities are brought to book,” Snr Asst Comm Charamba said.