02 MAR, 2020
BY VENERANDA LANGA
HOME Affairs deputy minister Mike Madiro on Thursday told Senate that machete-wielding gangsters committed 27 murders in Silobela alone from January 2019 to date.
He was responding to a question by Mashonaland Central Senator Alice Chimbudzi who had asked him to explain measures being taken by government to protect small-scale miners from attacks by machete-wielding gangsters.
“Illegal artisanal miners are not only committing violent crimes such as murder, robbery, rape and assault, but they are also causing serious environmental degradation, soil erosion, deforestation, loss of biodiversity as well as contamination of soil, ground and surface water caused by chemicals emitted from illegal mining activities,” Madiro said.
“From January 2019 to date, 35 murders with 27 of the cases recorded in Silobela alone, of which six and 20 accused persons respectively were arrested and referred to court. On this
note, it is critical to highlight that none of these crimes occurred at mining sites but they occurred at beer outlets and in homes following misunderstandings and domestic disputes.”
He said throughout the country, from January 2019 to date, a total of 35 murders, 225 robberies, 382 assaults and 15 rape cases were committed by machete-wielding gangsters.
“However, there are numerous ongoing measures in all the provinces aimed at containing violent crimes perpetrated by artisanal miners.”
Madiro said the measures included raids at panning sites conducted from time to time to arrest illegal artisanal miners, with 6 229 nabbed from March 2019 to date and 1 922 offenders fined or referred to court for possessing dangerous weapons.
He said roadblocks are also set up to search for machetes, knives, iron bars and other dangerous weapons that can be used to murder, rob and harm innocent citizens.
“In addition, stop and search operations are being conducted in areas infested with illegal artisanal miners for dangerous weapons. Campaigns are being conducted with a view to encourage members of the public to desist from committing all forms of violence, respect the sanctity of human life and resolve any differences amicably,” he said.
Madiro said his ministry was engaging the Judiciary to impose stiffer penalties for such crimes, and had embarked on Zimbabwe Republic Police operations like “No to anarchy by artisanal miners”, “operation no to dangerous weapons” which targeted people carrying machetes, knives, spears and knobkerries to commit murder, assault, rape and public violence.
“As machete-wielding gangsters continued to wreak havoc, the ZRP stepped up its efforts and launched a massive operation code named “Chikorokoza ngachipere/iSitsheketsha kasiphele and No to machete gangs” which commenced on 14 January 2020 after resources for the first phase of the operation were made available. The operation is ongoing in all provinces and is aimed at arresting machete-wielding criminals.”