Victor Maphosa Herald Correspondent
OVER 50 militant sand poachers recently attacked police and and Environmental Management Agency (EMA) officers during a sand abstraction blitz in the Chizhanje area of Mabvuku.
EMA provincial environmental manager for Harare Metropolitan Province Mr Robson Mavondo confirmed the incident and said police had to disperse the mob by firing teargas canisters and warning shots.
“The operation focused on apprehending illegal sand abstractors and transporters of sand. Two vehicles were used to encircle Chizhanje sand abstraction site.
“On approaching the site one truck driver ran away and abandoned his truck that was being used to ferry illegally extracted sand. Two other drivers tried to drive off through the Chizhanje exit point, but their trucks were blocked by one of the agency’s vehicles,” he said.
“The two trucks were impounded at Mabvuku Police Station. The other one remained on the site after the driver locked it before running away. A tow truck was called in to tow it away but unfortunately it failed.
“During the process over 50 illegal sand abstractors who had run away began to mobilise one another to attack the officers.
“The police responded by firing teargas and two warning shots after the illegal sand miners became aggressive. More police reinforcements were sent to the area and three more warning shots fired resulting in the mob dispersing,” he said.
Mr Mavondo also said the area damaged by sand poachers is estimated at 72,5707 hectares and a depth of 3,5 metres, adding the two trucks taken to Mabvuku ZRP Police Station were fined $1 200 each..
He said the agency had since opened a docket for the abandoned truck .