Some small-scale gold miners in Maramba, Mashonaland East were earlier this month detained for hours by police for travelling at night despite the mining sector being exempted from the national lockdown regulations and the curfew order.
On July 21, President Mnangagwa announced further strict national lockdown measures and imposed a curfew to curb the spread of the rising cases of Covid-19 pandemic, while exempting essential services from the lockdown measures and curfew.
Such essential services include the mining sector from which registered miners fall and to promote their activities during the national lockdown and curfew period, all registered miners are required to obtain exemption letters from the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development.
The curfew now runs from 8 pm to 6 am.
Speaking to Mining Zimbabwe, the small-scale miners who spoke on condition of anonymity said despite carrying exemption letters from their parent ministry, they were detained by the police for travelling at night on mining business.
“We were transporting our mining consumables from Harare to Maramba in Mashonaland East on Sunday, but because our truck developed a mechanical fault while in Harare, we ended up travelling at night.
“While we did not encounter any challenges along the way, trouble started when we got to Mutawatawa Business Centre where we were detained by the police for travelling at night,” said one of the miners.
He said police at Mutawatawa Business Centre detained them from 8 pm to around 2 am. At the time the curfew was from 6 pm to 6 am.
Another small-scale miner who suffered the same fate said chances are high that there are also fellow miners around the country who are facing the same predicament and called on the law enforcement agents to take into consideration that the mining sector falls under the essential service.
“If more investigations could be done, you would find out that there are also fellow miners elsewhere across the country who have faced the same predicament as us. We are, therefore, making a clarion call to the law enforcement agents not to detain us for moving around at night on mining business as long as we carry with us proper documentation,” said the miner.
Contacted for comment, national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyati said the country is under national lockdown and curfew order, and thus the miners prior to their night movements at night, should seek clearance with local police.
“Remember, the country is under national lockdown and curfew order. Should there be any issues, genuine issues must be redressed with their respective local Officer In Charge and local Officer Commanding District prior to their travelling at night,” he said.
Meanwhile, the deadly contagion which was detected in the country in March has as of Tuesday killed 80 people from over 4 000 confirmed cases.
Under the strict lockdown measures, public gatherings for social, religious, or political purposes remain banned with funeral gatherings also remaining curtailed. The measures are expected to be reviewed once the situation improves.
This article first appeared in August 2020 issue of the Mining Zimbabwe Magazine