Freeman Razemba and Heather Charema
Police have arrested three suspects, recovered a possible murder weapon and the getaway car reportedly used by members of a gang that killed a police officer two weeks ago at Good Hope Mine in Battlefields.
A machete allegedly used during the assault and an unregistered Honda Fit used as a gateway car were recovered following the arrest of Lyton Panashe Tshuma (18), Obvious Mawire (21) and Munyaradzi Chari (43).
This comes as police on Tuesday rounded up 100 illegal gold panners and vendors in separate raids at Good Hope Mine and Jumbo Mine in Mazowe, both epicentres of recent serious violence.
Support Unit, District Reaction Groups (DRG) and the Canine Section were part of police teams used in the raids.
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.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi, giving details of the arrests, said: “Police have intensified operations against criminal activities at mining sites. In Mashonaland Central, 65 people were arrested for criminal trespass, while seven were arrested for prospecting for gold without a licence, 10 hammer mills, six generators, a compressor, a water pump, a box of explosives, alcohol and 47 dagga sachets were recovered.
“The 28 that were arrested at Good Hope Mine include 20 men and eight women and they were all arrested for prospecting for gold. About 90 percent of them are from Kadoma, while one is from Gokwe, three are from Harare, while one is from Murombedzi.”
Asst Comm Nyathi said they impounded a Hino truck (AFT 2634), Toyota Corolla (AET 9271) and a Honda Fit (AFB 6008) that were loaded with gold ore.
He said investigations revealed that some people who were allocated gold claims in that area were not mining, enticing illegal panners to move into the claims.
At Jumbo Mine, 72 suspects were arrested for prospecting for gold, vending and criminal trespassing.
“Police will continue conducting raids in all areas where there is a gold rush until sanity prevails countrywide,” Asst Comm Nyathi said.
He said some of the suspects were fined while others will appear in court soon facing more serious charges.
The raids follow several recent gang arrests as the police intensify their crackdown on violent criminals.
A gang of 17 gold panners, including one person who is on police’s most wanted list, were arrested in Kadoma on Tuesday.
A man also drowned in a river in Battlefields and police suspect he was fleeing arrest.
The 17 suspects arrested in Kadoma are reported to be members of the gang known as “Team Barca”, formerly led by Taurai Mutandwa who was shot dead during the David Whitehead gold rush in Chegutu.
The recent killing and assault on police officers is suspected to be an act of revenge.
In yet another success in Mt Darwin, police on Monday arrested eight men and recovered four machetes and four Okapi knives stashed in the boot of a Toyota Wish they were travelling in.
The group is suspected to have been behind a spate of murders and robberies in Mashonaland Central Province.
In a statement on Tuesday this week, police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga reiterated that they will not tolerate acts of violence by artisanal miners in any part of the country.