By Mashonaland East Correspondent
Marondera: GOVERNMENT has reportedly ordered police to stop harassing through raids and arrests of villagers involved in illegal gold panning in Mutoko, Mudzi and Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe districts of M ashonaland East, it has been learnt.
For years, gold mining companies and police in the three districts have been engaged in fights with illegal miners over mining claims with the companies accusing the villagers of invading their mines. Most of the mines in the area are owned by Chinese companies.
The mining companies also accused the villagers of causing environment degradation. Concerns have also been raised over the increase in the use of mercury to extract gold by the villagers despite its detrimental effect to the environment and human life.
However, the Mashonaland East resident minister, Apollonia Munzverengwi says the villagers are now able to carry out their mining activities without being arrested.
“Artisanal miners in Mutoko and Uzumba have been playing hide and seek with the police but eventually they were allowed to formalise their activities and carry out mining activities,” Munzverengwi said.
However, the Minister said there was need for the mines ministry and the villagers to work on how best they can look after the areas they are mining through land reclamation.
The recent discovery of gold in Makaha area in Mudzi, has resulted in villagers flocking the area in search of wealth.
Early this year, five villagers were arrested for stealing gold ore at Havilla Gold Mine in Mutawatawa.