BULAWAYO city councillors have expressed concern over the rising number of open air worshippers who are establishing illegal prayer sites where there are no toilets.
“Illegal occupation of council land, stray animals and mushrooming of open air worshippers was of great concern around Greater Bulawayo. Livestock control, especially donkeys which were now all over the city, had been attributed to transport shortages,” partly read the council’s latest minutes.
Bulawayo City Council (BCC) housing and community services assistant director, Dictor Khumalo said the worshippers occupying open spaces were engaged, but the exercise was futile.
“The research was made to establish environmental issues and church requirements. A clean-up of the worship sites had been undertaken, but in no time they returned to the illegal sites. The identity or leaders of the churches were yet to be established,” Khumalo said.
The local authority also revealed that illegal gold mining activities around Hillside Dam has seriously affected the city’s water catchment area.
“Regularly they were joint operations including police, Zimbabwe National Water Authority, Environment Management Agency and the council. Outside catchment areas is where most illegal gold panners were operating from,” the minutes read.
“Gold panners who were issued claims by the Ministry of Mines to operate outside the catchment areas abused their claims and encroached on the dams. As for the stray animals, reports had to be made to the relevant department to take note of the existence of such animals in a particular area.”