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Rise in criminal activities in Matebeleland South mining areas

by Staff reporter
30 Oct 2020 at 06:19hrs | Views
CRIMINAL activities occurring in mining areas in Matebeleland South are severely affecting surrounding communities, with some community members becoming victims.

A number of crimes which include robbery, assault, murder, attempted murder and rape have been recorded in mining areas in the province.

Mrs Nokuthula Nleya from Colleen Bawn area said they were now feeling unsafe because of rowdy behaviour from some illegal gold panners.

"We no longer feel safe because of illegal gold panners that are sprouting all over mining areas and they cause a lot of violence. Some of them attack each other with dangerous weapons such as machetes and our children end up being exposed to such gruesome incidences happening within the community.

"Some of this violence spills over into the community and innocent villagers get attacked and robbed. Living within a mining area has become scary and we desperately need protection from these criminals," she said.

Chief Sangulube from Mangwe said there was a need for heavy police presence in mining areas. He said illegal mining activities were the cause of many violent crimes.

"Mining areas have always been a problem for surrounding communities because of the violence and criminal activities that go on there. These miners who mostly operate illegally constantly engage in fights over claims and it's unfortunate that this violence spills to the community and innocent people get harmed in the process.

"Recently a group of youths from Makhubu area which falls under my jurisdiction were playing soccer when they were attacked by a group of rowdy miners for no apparent reason. Some of these miners rob villagers at night while others sexually abuse women and girls. The community is now living in fear because of violent miners. Women can't collect firewood freely in the bushes and our children can't move around freely out of fear of being attacked by these criminals," he said.

Chief Sangulube said most of the people who flocked to their mining areas and went on to cause problems were coming from other provinces. He said there was need for these illegal operations of miners to be brought to an end. He said as traditional leaders, they were eagerly waiting for the Mines and Minerals Act to be amended in order to include roles of traditional leaders.

"There is need for heavy police presence in mining areas in order to contain these criminal activities. The Mines and Minerals Act also has to recognise the role of traditional leaders when people are allocated mines because at the moment it overrides land ownership. A person can come straight from the Ministry of Mines office and go straight to the ground and start mining even if that particular area is someone's homestead or field."

He said as traditional leaders, they are the custodians of the community and therefore potential miners have to go through them first before they are allocated claims.

"This way we will be able to monitor the mining activities and know who is operating legally and who isn't. It's unproper for people to just descend on our area and start mining without our knowledge," he said.

Chief Sangulube said mining activities were taking place in two wards under his jurisdiction and those two areas were recording a lot of criminal activities.

Chief Tshitshi also from Mangwe District said it was improper for youngsters from communities to be exposed to such violence and criminal activities as they could be misled. He said mining activities were crucial to the country as they were a major contributor to the growth of the economy but they had to be contained and conducted properly and it was the duty of law enforcement agents to ensure this happened.

Matabeleland South provincial police spokesperson, Chief Inspector Philisani Ndebele said as law enforcement agents there were several strategies they had put in place to curb crime in mining areas.

"Mining areas are among some of the major hotspots when it comes to violent crimes and as police we have several strategies that we have put in place to address the problem. We conduct constant raids and patrols to identify and arrest illegal miners as illegal mining is one of the major causes of these crimes. We have also engaged miners to form associations so they can work together and whenever they detect a threat, they alert the police.

"We also continue to hold campaigns where we educate people against committing crime and also urge miners to regularise their operations. The challenge we face is that some mine owners don't have registers for their workers which makes it difficult to identify intruders. Mine owners are also urged to secure their premises with fences and to employ security personnel as we can't offer them security services at all times because of limited resources," he said.

Source - chroncile

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