Heather Charema Mash West Bureau
Machetes will be banned in gold mining areas, with those possessing them set to be jailed under a new law being crafted by the Government.
The move by the Government to ban the possession of machetes, follows a spate of violent crimes allegedly committed by machete-wielding artisanal miners.
Besides the ban and mandatory jail terms, the Government is considering setting up special courts to ensure such cases were dealt with quickly and effectively.
Statistics from the police show that in Kadoma, 224 machete-related crimes were recorded from January to November this year.
Chegutu District recorded an increase in machete-related crimes from 108 cases last year to 125 this year.
Mining areas and nearby beer outlets top the list of the most affected areas with assaults, robberies, attempted murder and murder cases dominating the list.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi told The Herald that stakeholders should join the fight against machete violence.
“As Government, we are extremely disturbed by the illegal activities of artisanal miners who continuously terrorise people using machetes,” he said.
“Our cultural values and ethos are at stake and it is every stakeholder’s mandate to work towards bringing sanity into the country.
“l call for an intertwined relationship between the ZRP, Judicial Service Commission (JSC), prosecuting authorities, mining authorities and other stakeholders to thwart their criminal activities.”
Minister Ziyambi said Government was in the process of coming up with an instrument that will give mandatory jail sentences to those found with the machetes in districts designated as risky by police.
“In the same vein, l am in discussion with the Prosecutor General and Judicial Service Commission with a view of having special courts to deal with these cases.
“We want people to enjoy the peace and tranquillity that has always prevailed in Zimbabwe, he said.
Women in Mining official Mrs Audrey Hativagone said: “We condemn violence by artisanal miners in the strongest possible terms for we expect business to be carried out under peaceful conditions in terms of the laws of the country.
“The possession and use of machetes in the mining industry scares away investors and other players, including women.
“The Constitution of this country which is the supreme law, clearly forbids discrimination on gender basis.”
She said women become more vulnerable in violent circumstances, which will exclude them from participating if denied equal opportunities to operate in the gold mining sector.
Police have since started raids on illegal mining sites in all provinces and have recovered weapons and equipment used mainly for gold panning.
ZMF secretary for Youth in Mining in Zimbabwe Ms Sophia Takuva spoke against “lazy” youths who use machetes to grab fellow miners’ ore.
“We are losing young hard working citizens through machete afflicted deaths and this must come to an end. If stocktheft has not less than nine years, why not also protect human life and a sector which contributes immensely to the growth of the country.
“We must fight together as a country to end these wars. We need to look at the distribution process that is the selling of machetes, and I think the Government must ban the selling and imports of machetes in the country and also arrest the people who are found in possession of the machetes,” said Ms Takuva.
Before the violence, machetes were simply a gardening tool, useful for cutting back overgrown hedges and dealing with thick undergrowth.