By Anyway Yotamu and Joyce Mukucha
The Mines and Mining Development Parliamentary Portfolio Committee has urged the government to impose stiffer penalties on machetes gangs known as Mashurugwi as part of efforts to deal with the crimes perpetrated by these gold panning criminals.
(Mashurugwi) is the term used to refer to outlaws that have become the terror of artisanal miners, mining companies and communities. Addressing Journalist in Harare after an urgent sitting on Wednesday 8th January 2020, the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Mining Development, Hon Edmond Mukaratigwa said the committee has resolved that the government should introduce punitive measures with regards to curbing the machetes welding gangs.
“The committee resolved that government begin legislative procedures to allow for stiffer penalties with regards to such perpetrators as was done in the case of the criminal procedure evidence act regarding the vandalism of the railway and electrical material among others.”
“The committee also resolved to engage the government to expedite the formalisation of artisanal miners to ensure accountability of their activities.
“In doing so it is necessary to identify the challenges being faced by different government stakeholders directing efforts towards quelling this behavior affecting the mining sector and communities.
Hon Mkaratigwa also highlighted that the barbaric behaviour of gold panning gangs undermines efforts of development by the government.
“We have resolved to conduct an inquiry to identify and trace the foundation and development of gold panning gangs. To find out the socio-economic impacts of the disturbances by them on gold production in light of the 12 billion target set for the mining industry by 2023,” said Mkaratigwa.
Machete wielding gangs have been wrecking havoc in various parts of the country committing crimes such as murder, robbery, rape among others. In Mashonaland West at the Battlefields the machete gang killed a police officer.
Violence perpetrated by machete-wielding artisanal miners is on the rise in country with people being killed in 2019 in battles to control small-scale mines and the general public are usually caught in the crossfire. Midlands, Mash Central and Manicaland are some of the provinces mostly affected.