BULAWAYO City Council (BCC) rangers shot and injured three gold panners who had allegedly charged towards them after being ordered to stop conducting illicit panning activities at one of the city’s supply dams in Matabeleland South.
Police confirmed, through a Twitter statement on Thursday, the development which occurred on Tuesday.
The police said the three panners have since been arrested while admitted to a local hospital.
“On 31 December 2019 in Bulawayo, some city rangers who were on patrol came across illegal gold panners at Upper Ncema Dam, Esigodini. The rangers tried to disperse the panners by (firing) warning shots but they did not take heed,” tweeted the police.
“The panners then headed towards the rangers who accidentally fired at them, injuring three in the process. The three are currently admitted to hospital under police guard.”
The incident occurred three days after illegal miners killed an on-duty police officer in Kadoma while leaving another fighting for life.
Two of the illegal gold panners have since been arrested in connection with the cop’s murder.
The Kadoma incident has prompted police to conduct a nationwide crackdown against illegal gold panners.
In a follow up interview yesterday, national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said anyone who tries to resist arrest will be dealt with accordingly.
“There is no one who is above the law and we will certainly deal with these machete wielding gangs. If they try to attack police officers or anyone else, they would have themselves to blame. You are quite aware that we have made arrests in Kadoma, Mt Darwin, actually arrests are being carried out throughout the country,” he said.
“Police have intensified operations and we are monitoring what really takes place at disused mines and at the so-called gold rushes. It has been observed that where someone reveals that there is gold, panners rush to the area and cause chaos. They then attack anyone who ever tries to restore sanity in those areas. So, the operation that has been launched in various provinces will continue and we want to implore all stakeholders to cooperate with the police.”
Already cops have arrested 100 illegal gold panners and vendors in separate raids at Good Hope Mine in Kadoma and Jumbo Mine in Mazowe, areas which have been synonymous with violence over gold.
Of the 100 arrested, 28 were netted at Good Hope Mine while 72 were picked up at Jumbo Mine.
Police also impounded three vehicles that were loaded with gold ore.
Police Commissioner General Godwin Matanga has also issued a stern warning to the machete terror gangs that that the law will catch up with them.
He said police will soon issue orders to prohibit carrying of dangerous weapons in the gold mining sites.