15,000 Panners Arrested This Year

Almost 15 000 gold panners, including members of machete gangs and other criminal elements have been arrested in mining communities countrywide since January under the ongoing “Operation Chikorokoza Ngachipere” and “No to Machete Wielding Gangs”.

Machete gangs, including those using knobkerries, have resurfaced countrywide, targeting mines and people keeping large amounts of cash at home, as well as intimidating local communities.

In a statement yesterday, national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said the operation will continue until there was order countrywide.

“To date we have arrested a total of 14 948 people in Mazowe, Shamva, Gweru and other sites around the country since the commencement of ‘Operation Chikorokoza Ngachipere’. The operation is ongoing and we have covered all the provinces and those that resist risk being arrested and then face deterrent sentences as we are in constant liaison with the judiciary,” he said.

A few months ago, police restored order in mining areas after taking on the machete gangs head-on, arresting large numbers of people and thwarting a wave of violence that threatened to disturb gold mining and consequently deliveries to Fidelity Printers and Refiners.

Most of those that were arrested were fined, since with the break-up of gangs they were no longer dangerous and there was no evidence they had committed other criminal offences.

But others were sent to court for prosecution, facing various offences.

In a similar operation to protect the Upper Mazowe National Monument, 172 people have been arrested since Tuesday.

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