BY PRAISEMORE SITHOLE
ILLEGAL gold miners have encroached onto the Gwanda-Bulawayo Highway, posing a risk to motorists and passengers.
Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights co-ordinator Khumbulani Maphosa said they were worried that gold panning along the highway could result in loss of lives.
“Just eight kilometres from Gwanda town towards Bulawayo, otsheketsha/makorokoza (gold panners) are digging under the main tarred road, creating human rights and infrastructure risks.
“When we assessed the area, we saw that otsheketsha/makorokoza have begun digging under the busy road, and parts of the railway line are also being carved under.
“We call on the responsible authorities to monitor the developments in the area and deploy teams to rehabilitate the environment in order to avert disaster,” Maphosa said.
Gwanda mayor Njabulo Siziba said the affected area was outside his council’s jurisdiction.
“That place is outside our jurisdiction, it belongs to the rural district council. I also have not yet received information concerning illegal miners along the road,” Siziba said.
Environmental Management Agency (EMA) Matabaleland South provincial manager Descent Ndlovu said the illegal miners had been chased away.
“What l know is that miners who were mining in the area were chased away. There are officials who are deployed to monitor the area — unless they have resurfaced again.
“What these people do is they come and dig during the night. There is another place called Bar 20 where they dug during the night and left,” Ndlovu said.
He called on stakeholders to report such cases. “Illegal mining is a serious problem which needs all stakeholders to come together to stop it,” he said.
Recently EMA pleaded with artisanal miners to rehabilitate land after engaging in their mining activities in order to prevent ecological degradation.