BY PRAISEMORE SITHOLE
SAND poachers at Bulawayo’s Methodist village are reportedly encroaching onto people’s homes and graveyards in search of the resource needed for construction purposes.
Methodist is in ward 17 on the outskirts of the city and has a population of approximately 600 people.
Speaking during a stakeholders’ meeting organised by Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association on Monday, participants said there was need to find a sustainable solution to the problem.
“There is need to stop running battles between council and sand poachers. We must come up with a sustainable solution to extract sand,” a sand poacher, who only identified himself as Ndlovu, said.
“Chasing each other in the forests is not a solution. We all benefit from this sand,” he said.
Sand-poaching activities also lead to land degradation.
During the meeting, sand poachers blamed council for forcing them into illegal operations due to the high licence fees it charges.
Residents suggested that council should also arrest people who buy sand from poachers.
“This sand is being delivered to residents and whenever you arrest sand poachers, why not also arrest the residents that are buying this illegal sand from sand poachers? It takes two to tango,” another resident said.
Ward 17 councillor Sikhululekile Moyo said: “There is a serious problem of sand poaching which has led to land degradation in the ward. We recently had a meeting with the Environmental Management Agency (Ema) and other stakeholders to address the sand poaching problem at Methodist village,” Moyo said.
She said Ema promised to rope in the police to arrest the sand poachers.
The operation, Moyo said, would possibly resolve the challenges posed by sand poachers at Methodist village.
Last year, Ema Bulawayo province environmental manager Decent Ndlovu said sand poaching attracted a fine of up to $5 000 or one year imprisonment.