BULAWAYO municipal police have arrested 140 illegal miners since January for gold panning near the city’s water bodies, causing massive siltation.
This is revealed in the council’s environmental issues report that includes degradation of the Greater Bulawayo and its water catchment areas.
“Routine patrols were conducted by the rangers in the water catchment areas. There were 132 hand tools confiscated inclusive of four detectors. Nine illegal miners were arrested, making a total of 140 panners arrested and detector machines confiscated since January to September 2023,” the report read.
“The panners were handed over to Esigodini police for prosecution, while the tools will be used in court as exhibits.”
There is rampant gold panning in the city’s water catchment areas such as Umzingwane.
The local authority has been conducting raids over the years, but the panners keep returning as they seek to make ends meet in the face of high joblessness.
In the report, the city said joint and extended patrols were conducted during the period and eight trucks were impounded.
“A total of 37 tickets were issued to various offenders for various offences, and 33 tickets had been paid for, with a sum of US$3 472 realised. There were still four outstanding tickets worth US$7 571,” the report read.
City fathers also complained about sand poachers who they say are leaving open pits.
Illegal sand poaching and brick moulding is causing land degradation as sand poachers leave areas with unreclaimed pits that pose a danger to residents.
According to the Environmental Management Agency, the most affected areas are Cowdray Park and Pumula high-density suburbs and council’s Mazwi Farm. – (Southern Eye)