Police continue exerting pressure on illegal panners, with another 54 arrested last Thursday in Mazowe, Shamva and Inyathi, to bring the total since January to 6 176.
Operation “Chikorokoza Ngachipere” seeks to bring order to mining communities and was launched when illegal panning mushroomed and violent gangs armed with machetes started dominating gold-rich areas.
Last week’s arrests were for trespassing, transporting gold without a permit, prospecting for gold without a licence and illegal vending in mining areas.
Police launched the operation two months ago following an outcry over machete-wielding robbers who were terrorising people in mining communities.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed the latest arrests.
“A total of 28 people were arrested in an early morning raid at various mines around Mazowe on March 12, 2020,” he said.
“The 28 are being charged for criminal trespassing as mine owners had no knowledge of their presence at the said mines.”
Asst Comm Nyathi said in Shamva, nine others were arrested on the same day at around 6am after they were found in possession of gold ore.
“Nine accused persons were also arrested at a mine in Shamva on March 12, 2020 at about 6am, after they were found in possession of gold ore,” he said.
“The accused persons are being charged with theft and criminal trespassing.”
In Inyathi, which is located about 60 kilometres north-east of Bulawayo in Matabeleland North, police arrested 14 people for prospecting for gold without a licence, two for transporting gold without a permit and another one for vending.
Asst Comm Nyathi said the suspects were taken to court and are all out on bail.