ZELA castigates unruly security agents
By Edward Mukaro
THE Zimbabwe Environment Law Association (ZELA) has condemned the involvement of “some unruly security agents” working in syndicates with criminals in the mining sector; the association’s recently released Mining Sector Situational Report: 7th Series states.
The edition highlights a range of interesting issues, which include laws relating to mining disputes, how corruption is fueling conflict in the mining sector and the involvement of security officers in illegal mining operations.
“Miners have bemoaned the involvement of state security agents in the mining sector. Where they should be working to stop the criminal elements that cause conflicts, some unruly security agents work in syndicates with criminals,” stated ZELA.
According to the report, one miner based in Kwekwe interviewed by ZELA stated, “In Kwekwe, one can mine without the sufficient paperwork as long as they pay the CID USD$100 and that is how some opportunists can take control of your claim,” said the miner.
The report further states that some miners now even fear reporting conflicts to the police, as doing so would be informing them of specific locations of their claims.
“Some women indicated that when one goes to report a crime or a dispute, the police use that as an opportunity to harvest information on prolific gold locations and share the information with their syndicates on the ground, who then go and raid or displace miners violently.”
In 2020, the report states, artisanal small-scale miners (ASM) in Gwanda reported several cases of some police officers, who were allegedly working in cahoots with criminals to rob miners of their gold. In 2010, 10 police officers were arrested in Chegutu for allegedly prospecting without a license.
ASM operating in Kwekwe expressed fear of the Makorokoza, who are still a menace.
“We work in fear, in fear of our lives and those of our families. The machete gangs use different monikers such as ‘Khetho’, ‘Barcas’ (MaBarca), and Magirigamba and they do not make it easy.
“After working so hard and investing a lot of money to mine and get gold they come when you have found the gold and demand that you give it to them. In some cases, they follow you at home and violently demand either gold or money. The sad part is when one reports to the police the perpetrator is arrested and released in an hour,” said one miner.