The Zimbabwe Republic Police says a cumulative 27 220 people have been arrested in connection with illegal mining activities across the country since Operation Chikorokoza Ngachipere was launched two years ago.
ZRP launched the operation to end unregulated mining activities towards the end of 2019 after some machete-wielding gangs sprouted in various mining communities terrorizing innocent villagers.
Over the weekend, 136 suspects were arrested countrywide with the police urging the public to adhere to mining laws.
“Police confirms that on 27/03/21, 136 people were arrested on Operation “Chikorokoza Ngachipere/Isitsheketsha Kasiphele and No to Machete Gangs”. Since the onset of the operation, a cumulative 27 220 people have been arrested,” wrote ZRP on its Twitter account.
“The ZRP encourages members of the public to adhere to all mining laws to promote safety and security in mining areas,” it added.
Illegal mining activities have been on a rapid increase across the country due to high unemployment rate prevailing in the economy.
Sadly, most of their operations disregard the country’s mining laws and environmental management practices.
In some mining areas, rival illegal miners’ groups have clashed, leading to high rates of brutal murders.
Investigations by the ZRP show that some errant members of the force are at the forefront of these illegal mining activities in some areas.
“We have had arrests in Jumbo, Mazowe, and Shamva of illegal artisanal miners. I admit we have arrested (police) officers at Jumbo. The law will take its course,” police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi told journalists at a media training last year.
The government through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe have been encouraging illegal miners to formalize their operations and deliver their produce to the Bank’s gold buying unit, Fidelity Printers and Refiners.
However, a combination of mistrust of government and unfavorable export surrender requirements have deterred illegal miners from formalizing operations leading to the country losing a substantial amount of money to black market sales.