BY PRESTIGE MUNTANGA
ESIGODINI villagers in Umzingwane district, Matabeleland South province, have expressed concern over numerous disused pits left by gold panners, especially along Umzingwane River, which they say pose a danger to both humans and livestock.
The villagers told Southern Eye that most gold panners who operate along the Umzingwane River, leave behind open pits.
“It’s very dangerous, especially to our cattle herders. We are afraid to walk after the sun has sets because we may fall into the pits left open in our grazing areas,” said Vulamakhosi Nkala from Mbiizingwe village 4.
Nkala said villagers were now drinking dirty water as a result of illegal mining activities.
“We used to drink clean water from the river, but now, all water bodies are contaminated because of the illegal miners.”
Umzingwane legislator Levi Mayihlome said: “We don’t know who is responsible for these pits because they are doing it illegally and they are violating the law, which demands them to reclaim the pits after digging.
“This is a big challenge, not only for Umzingwane district, but the whole country such that we have discussed it in Parliament.”
Mayihlome said council should levy gold mining companies and use the money to reclaim the pits.
“I suggest that we introduce a levy for every gold miner because that’s the better way to deal with this,” he said.
“There are many people who are doing this and it’s hard to trace them.”