THE government has intensified efforts to bring sanity to the mining sector, amid revelations that a total number of 35 people have been killed by machete gangs since the beginning of the year.
Presenting oral evidence before the Parliamentary Committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security, Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, Kazembe Kazembe said cases committed by the machete gangs from January to date include 35 murders, 225 robberies, 382 assault, and 15 rap_e cases throughout the country. However, he said his ministry has managed to record some notable achievements in its fight to bring an end to the criminal activities by the machete-wielding gangs.
“Notable achievements to date; 4 062 0ffenders have been arrested, 1 832 offenders were arrested for possession of dangerous weapons. Since the commencement of Chikorokoza Ngachipere on 14 January 2020 a total of 3 137 arrests have been made in Mashonaland Central, Manicaland and Mashonaland East Province,” he said.
Responding to the concerns raised by the parliamentary committee, Minister Kazembe said the Ministry is lobbying for the amendment of acts in the mining sector as most of the laws have gaps that enable those who partake in illegal gold exchange to get away with the crime.
“The other challenge that we are facing is that when a person is arrested possessing gold they always tell you this gold belongs to someone with a license. And that person brings the license, and that person is left off the hook. The other area that needs attention is that of detectors. Currently, someone can use a detector any way and not specify where that detector is supposed to be. So we are saying we should probably have laws that confine that detector to that particular mine, so that when we find it in an area where it’s not supposed to be, it then becomes an offence because those are the detectors that people are using to look for new areas where there is gold. So that again is a loophole. And there are a number of others which also have loopholes.
“Another issue which is not very clear is how long is the person supposed to keep the gold before they sell it to fidelity because some keep the gold for months and if we arrest them they tell you it’s their right. They have a license. So they will keep it deliberately knowing even if they are asked to pay a fine they don’t feel the pain.
The minister also stressed that collective effort among all stakeholders in the country will help bring back sanity in the mining sector.
“We need to work together collectively because our duty is to arrest when an offence has been committed. The way forward that will bring sanity to the mining sector is by coming up with a legal framework and allow people to mine legally so that the country benefits and the individual miners’ benefit. As long as there is order in the mining sector chances of crimes being committed would be very slim. If its chaotic people will take advantage. There is a need for a holistic approach,” said the minister.