By Staff Reporter
MUTASA SOUTH: Armed police besieged the gold rich area of Penhalonga, North West of Mutare and arrested 186 illegal miners who were destroying the environment and conducting other illicit deals.
Police said the operation was meant to flush out illegal miners, prostitutes, drug peddlers and illegal shop operators who were reportedly fuelling gold panning activities.
Penhalonga area has become a hotspot for various illegal activities such as drug peddling and prostitution.
Police recovered machinery and machetes during the operation.
Manicaland deputy police spokesperson, Assistant Inspector Luxson Chananda said the operation on Monday last week was targeting illegal miners and those also who were promoting the vice.
“The illegal mining activities had a devastating effect on the environment as there was land degradation and water pollution due to the chemical mercury which was being used by the miners,” said Chananda.
He said the area had attracted several business people who were operating without licences.
“The ZRP carried out an extensive operation and the primary concern was to curb illegal mining, rampant environmental degradation, illegal shop operators, drug peddlers who were profiting from selling to these illegal miners,” said the police spokesperson.
He said police managed to recover various equipment and weapons that were being used by the miners.
The equipment comprised of electricity generators, electric water pumps, shovels, picks, iron bars and machetes.
Chananda said a plantation of dagga whose quantity is still to be ascertained was uprooted by the crack team.
“The operation will continue until sanity prevails in the area,” he said.
Chananda said those arrested were expected to appear in court facing different charges ranging from illegal prospecting of gold, operating without licences and selling illegal brews.