Following a spate of violent attacks by machete wielding gangs targeting gold producing areas, stakeholders have called on authorities to stop this menace in order to restore peace and tranquility.
This emerged at the multi-stakeholder conference organised by the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) with support from the European Partnership for Responsible Minerals (EPRM) held at the Holiday Inn Hotel to discuss the attention-grabbing spate of violence in the artisanal mining sector.
Several artisanal and small-scale miners have been robbed of their gold, gold ore, money and in some instances violently dislocated from their productive gold sites.The fierce attacks perpetrated by the machete gangs has unfortunately left some dead and others injured. The media is awash with stories about machete gang violence which of late is worryingly escalating.
Honourable Edmond Mkaratigwa, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Mining Development said this crime has manifested beyond those dubbed as MaShurugwi.
“This crime has spread across the country and the source is simply criminals and not miners. Miners have become victims and production has been grossly affected. We need to stop the torment and stop the crime! The formalisation of the artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) sector is key in regulating the mining sector with specific attention to gold detectors and banning of machetes,” Hon Mkaratigwa said.
Henrietta Rushwaya, the President of the Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) urged the government to come up with a red flag regarding the machete issue. She called for enactment of stringent sentences against offenders as we as deterrent laws. She encouraged communities to come together and report such cases which are posing a threat to security and society’s social and moral fabric.
Sophia Takuva, the Secretary of the Zvishavane Women Miners’ Association said miners should be empowered to protect themselves against the marauding machete gangs.
“There should be gun laws concerning the issue of miners protecting themselves against the machete gangs. On the issue of evidence and justice delivery, the Judiciary should engage and work with line ministries to curb corruption in the mining sector. The ongoing system of releasing miners must stop. Stiffer penalties must be given to these machete criminals who are murdering citizens and miners,” Takuva said.