By Freedom Mupanedemo
Police have arrested 1 061 illegal gold panners in the Midlands Province, following the launch of “Operation Chikorokoza Ngachipere”, national police spokesperson, Assistant commissioner Paul Nyathi has said.
He said the operation targeted mining hotspots in the Midlands Province.
“Police launched Operation Isishekesha Sesiphelile/Chikorokoza Ngachipere in the Midlands Province and so far, we have arrested 1 061 illegal panners and the operation is ongoing.
“We are targeting mining areas where these illegal activities have been happening,” he said.
Asst Comm Nyathi said police confiscated machetes, iron bars, shovels and picks, among a range of other tools that the illegal miners were using.
“Police are confiscating the tools that these illegal miners were using which are also used to commit crimes in these areas,” he said.
He said the operation started in Kwekwe and Shurugwi where there were rampant illegal mining activities.
“In Shurugwi, we managed to arrest 821 illegal gold panners while in Kwekwe, 240 had been arrested since Monday,” he said.
Asst Comm Nyathi said police officers were screening suspects to de-congest cells by releasing those who would have been caught in the crossfire.
“Police (officers), who are working with other stakeholders, have been rounding people in these mining areas but we are conducting some screening exercises at police stations.
“Remember, there are some who will be in the areas probably selling their wares so they are being released after the screening,” he said.
Meanwhile, Asst Comm Nyathi said the media should be responsible when reporting issues to do with machete gangs.
He said the media were making derogatory statements when referring to some areas in their reportage on machete gangs.
“As police, we urge the media to be responsible and avoid stereotypes or connotations which portray or point to certain areas as the hotbed for machete gangs when in actual fact, our previous arrests have shown that these machete gangs were not from one area,” he said.
Some sections of the media had been referring to machete gangs as “MaShurugwi” as if to infer that the notorious violent gangs were from Shurugwi.
The “MaShurugwi” tag riled traditional leaders in Shurugwi who recently voiced concern over the derogatory name. The Herald