By Leopold Munhende
AN undisclosed number of police officers are among 2 852 people who have been arrested for illegal gold mining or being part of the machete wielding gangs, police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi has said.
He was speaking on the sidelines of a media training on community reporting organised by the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) Wednesday in Harare.
“We have had arrests in Jumbo, Mazowe and Shamva of illegal artisanal miners. I admit we have arrested (police) officers at Jumbo, the law will take its course,” said Nyathi.
“The Home Affairs Minister has said it before and I repeat – if there is a police officer who is involved in mining activities, they must stop because they will be arrested and eventually lose their jobs.”
A high number of cops, correctional services officers and soldiers have been implicated in cases of illegal gold mining across the country.
Nyathi referred queries on whether they had also arrested any members of the military or Prison Service to respective spokespersons.
“I cannot comment on behalf of the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) and Prisons, you will have to call them respectively.”
This week, 13 police officers, including a chaplain, were arrested after allegedly trying to extort cash from illegal miners they had been sent to arrest in Chakari, Mashonaland West.
Commonly referred to as Mashurugwi, the machete wielding gangs have been terrorising innocent citizens in mining communities and surrounding towns where they have robbed, maimed, raped and killed for gold claims, gold ore and money.
On Tuesday, police arrested 319 illegal miners in Odzi, Manicaland province in the ongoing clampdown.