POLICE have arrested more than 1 500 illegal gold miners in the Midlands province of Zimbabwe under operation “Chikorokoza Ngachipere/No to machete gangs” in the past three days.
This brings the total number of illegal gold miners and machete wielding gangs arrested countrywide to 4560.
Midlands Police Spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed the arrests of the illegal gold miners and machete wielding criminals in an operation which is meant to restore sanity in mining communities.
Marauding machete wielding gangs had become a menace in the country where they have terrorized citizens through rape, robbery and murder.
Assistant Commissioner Nyathi said the operation, which is meant to curb illegal mining activities and criminal elements committing various crimes in mining communities, has so far netted 4560 people.
“The Zimbabwe Republic Police has so far arrested 4560 people since the inception of the operation which is focused on curbing illegal mining activities and criminal elements committing various crimes at mining sites all over the country.
The latest arrests were made in Zvishavane, Kwekwe and Gokwe on March 03, 2020 where 457 people prospecting for gold without a licence, illegal vendors and trespassers were nabbed.
The operation will continue until all the mining activities are conducted in accordance with the law in a peaceful and conducive environment,” he said.
On Monday police raided Shurugwi and Kwekwe where they arrested 1061 people.
Asst Comm Nyathi said the machete wielding gangs are not “MaShurugwi” but are coming from different parts of the country.
“What we have established from the arrests that we have made so far is that these machete gangs are not from Shurugwi as has been earlier alleged. They are from different parts of the country. People should not stereotype people.
The people that we have arrested so far are not from Shurugwi alone but from different parts of the country. We are leaving no stone unturned in this operation and there shall not be any sacred cow.
At the moment we are vetting these suspects to see which ones are involved in criminal activities,” he said.
Asst Comm Nyathi said Police will release an updated total number of arrests made so far under the operation today (Thursday).
Shurugwi North Legislator, Robson Nyathi concurred that the illegal gold miners and machete wielding gangs who earned the moniker “MaShurugwi” were not from Shurugwi.
He however expressed concern over the arrests of women who were benefiting from an empowerment programme in Shurugwi whose activities were formalized.
“We are happy that police are now restoring sanity in mining communities. However, there were some people who were arrested in Shurugwi who benefitted from an empowerment initiative meant to create employment for youths and women. Some of the people that were caught in the crossfire are breast feeding women. I do not think those were involved in criminal activities,” he said.