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25 illegal hammer-mill operators arrested

25 illegal hammer-mill operators arrested

Story by Providence Maraneli

THE people of Umzingwane and Gwanda have expressed concern over illegal gold mining activities which are threatening critical infrastructure in Matabeleland South Province.

In an African village, a very simple dispute over the neighbour’s goats having devoured malt of a fellow villager can degenerate into a serious conflict.

That is, however, not the case in Malungwane area of Esigodini where villagers are fighting over gold hammer mills that have been installed in farming fields.

A Malungwane villager said, “We are so worried, everyone has a hammer mill and now they use our only source of water. They have dug up my field and they threatened me.”

“I think as council, we need by-laws because this is not sustainable,” said another villager.

The situation is worse in Gwanda where the illegal gold mining activities are threatening rail and road infrastructure.

One Gwanda villager stated, “We are worried that once the rains come, the rail will fail because it has been dug underneath,” while another added, “They have dug my homestead. We are worried about the road they have dug it.”

Police have since rounded up more than 20 hammer mill operators to nip the illegal activities in the bud.

“After outcry from villagers over mushrooming of hammer mills in people’s fields we have arrested 25 people who were operating illegal hammer mills and we continued the operation so that we could bring sanity,” explained ZRP Esigodini Officer in Charge, Inspector Thuso Nyoni.

Acting Matabeleland South Police spokesperson, Assistant Inspector Stanford Mguni said, “We continue to engage EMA and Ministry of Mines to bring sanity in the sector because the activities are threatening key infrastructure and we will not tire.”

Meanwhile, police in Esigodini have engaged Mpisini and Bayethe villagers on the issue of stock theft and violent crimes in the area.

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