Blitz nets 907 illegal miners Commissioner Paul Nyathi

Victor Maphosa Herald Correspondent

NINE-HUNDRED-AND-SEVEN illegal miners were arrested on the first day of a major police operation, while 18 vehicles were impounded on Tuesday in Mashonaland Central Province.

Most of the arrests took place at Jumbo Mine, as pressure to crush machete gangs intensifies.

The blitz marked the launch of “Operation Chikorokoza ngachipere, no to machete wielding gangs” to curb illegal mining and the associated violence in all gold-rich areas.

Police have promised to continue the operation until all illegal mining ceases.

The raids saw 740 arrested at Jumbo Mine, 139 in Shamva and 28 at Mazowe Bridge.

National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said the first day of the new operation, targeting the three areas also recovered equipment used by the illegal miners.

“We managed to recover various items used by these miners which include water pumps, hammer mills, generators, electric cables, solar panels and explosive fuses.”

Police also seized 3kg of mbanje and arrested illegal vendors of drugs and alcohol plus those selling meat without licences.

Asst Comm Nyathi said it was clear that people around gold-rich areas were now mining and transporting gold without proper documentation.

“We urge the public to desist from unlawful activities because the long arm of the law will catch up with them and as police we will deal with them without fear or favour,” he said.

“This operation is ongoing. As police, we want to assure the public that we will not rest or leave any stone unturned until sanity and order prevails in all gold-rich areas and in our communities. We will continue fighting crime at all costs.”

Gold-rich areas countrywide have become battle grounds for illegal miners with many of them using machetes, axes and sometimes guns in clashes with other gangs or in raids and robberies on legal mines or in violent attacks on others who cross them in nearby towns and cities.

Murder, robbery, rape and assaults have come in the wake of the gangs and Parliament has set up an inquiry to probe the origins and extent of the menace.

Police have this year mobilised extra resources to crush the gangs, setting up district reaction groups and bringing in the Police Support Unit, armed officers trained to use weapons, to back the CID and the often severely outnumbered general police at district and provincial level.

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