Army Joins Hwange Local Board To Fight Clay Poachers

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By Matabeleland North Correspondent

HWANGE: The local board in partnership with security services has intensified its blitz on illegal clay poachers causing massive land degradation while making bricks, with about 30 people arrested for various offences past few days.

The local authority is riding on a government “thunder ball operation” which seeks to protect the country’s wildlife as well as curbing deforestation and land degradation.

Hwange has in the last few months been haunted by massive clay soil poaching as scores of residents resorted to brick moulding to eke out a living.

Affected areas are; Empumalanga and Don Bosco as well as a truck stop which is under Hwange Colliery Company.

The brickmakers have left massive pieces of land, some of it earmarked for housing development, degraded posing both environmental and life danger to humans and animals.

HLB spokesperson Dumisani Nsingo said efforts will be made to nab all illegal brick moulders degrading land.

“The thunder ball operation in partnership with the government has so far netted 26 people for illegal clay soil extraction, two for sand poaching, one for charcoal production and three for animal poaching,” he said.

“The Hwange Local Board will take advantage of the ongoing month-long thunder ball operation aimed at protecting the country’s wildlife as well as curbing deforestation and land degradation to address the issue of clay soil poaching within its areas of jurisdiction.”

Land degradation has been topical in Hwange with the Greater Whange Residents Trust recently engaging the Zimbabwe Environment Lawyers Association (ZELA) with a view to suing all people partaking in the illegal practice.

ZELA summoned the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) to provide reports on the issue, including pollution of Deka River by mining companies that have caused poisoning of wildlife, livestock, and humans downstream from Hwange.