By Robert Tapfumaneyi
OVER 900 illegal gold panners arrested Tuesday in Mazowe and Shamva district in Mashonaland Central province in one of the biggest raids on the miners by the police as they try to contain marauding machete wielding gangs causing terror among mining communities in the country.
In a statement, police said a total 907 people had been arrested in the two gold-rich mining areas.
“A total of 907 people were arrested on 14 January at Shamva, Jumbo Mine and Mazowe River in the ongoing operation against illegal mining activities,” ZRP said.
“The accused persons are being charged for criminal trespass, illegal possession of gold or gold ore, possession of harmful liquids, drugs and other offences.
“18 vehicles were impounded while various mining equipment, an assortment of drugs and explosives were recovered. The net is closing in on all those engaging in illegal mining across the country.”
Last week, police arrested 14 machete gang members known as Mashurugwi at Jumbo Mine in Mazowe who were terrorising gold panners and innocent civilians.
Information from ZRP says 11 sharp machetes, 423 explosives, four rolls of copper wire and nine hammer mills were recovered the during the arrest.
In Gokwe North district Midlands province, 50 machete gang members were arrested last week after bloody confrontation with police at a police base when they tried to rescue some of their members who had been arrested for stealing gold.
Five machete gang members are on the run after stealing cash and other valuables from ZAOGA church congregates in Gweru.
On Monday, Chief Justice Luke Malaba announced the judiciary was setting up specialised courts to try members of different machete gangs throughout the country.
Reports also say that over 100 gruesome murders have been committed by the machete gangs in gold mining areas.