By Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu
Police in Matabeleland South have arrested 48 illegal gold panners and six illegal forex dealers during a seven day operation against illegal activities in the province.
In an interview, acting provincial police spokesperson, Sergeant Thandolwenkosi Moyo, said most arrests had been recorded in Esigodini area.
He said the police would continue conducting patrols in a bid to contain illegal activities in the province.
“We conducted an operation against illegal activities in the province from October 19 to 26 and we posted some positive results. We managed to arrest 48 illegal gold panners and two of these were on the wanted list. Most of the arrests were recorded in Esigodini area. We also arrested six illegal forex dealers.
“The operation was mainly targeting Esigodini, Colleen Bawn, Filabusi, Matobo and Fort Rixon areas as these places are where a lot of illegal mining activities have been taking place. While the operation has been completed, we are still firmly on the ground and have intensified our patrols to ensure that sanity prevails in Matabeleland South Province,” he said.
Sgt Moyo urged miners to desist from illegal activities and regularise their operations.
He also said illegal forex dealings had to end as people were expected to take their monies to the banks.
Police launched an operation following an increase in illegal mining activities in the province which have been mainly reported in Gwanda and Esigodini areas, and also resulted in loss of lives.
The police recently issued a statement where provincial police spokesperson, Chief Inspector Philisani Ndebele, assured members of the public that they had the situation under control following concerns over killings and violence at Esigodini which were blamed on gold panners.
He, however, urged members of the public to desist from labelling gold panners and attributing all criminal activities to them as they were also members of the public and crimes were not always perpetrated by them.
Chief Insp Ndebele also urged community members to participate in community policing initiatives such as neighbourhood watch committees in a bid to fight crime.
He called on opinion leaders and traditional leaders to approach the police if they had any grievances or information that could assist in policing.
Chief Insp Ndebele said employers had to ensure that they verified particulars of potential employees before hiring them as most criminals had fake identities. The Chronicle.