Traditional leaders demand immediate action to address illegal mining menace impacting community safety and development Mr Madela Moyo from Nsindi area in Gwanda shows some of the damage caused by illegal gold panners operating in their area

Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu , [email protected] 

TRADITIONAL leaders from Gwanda District have called on authorities to address illegal mining activities that are threatening human lives and the environment.

The activities have also been identified as a cause of violent crimes in the area.

Headman Makhurane said illegal mining has gone out of hand and the culprits do not seem to fear authorities anymore.

“As the leadership of the community our focus is on ensuring that we bring development and progress to our area but illegal mining is one area which continues to stall development. The activities of illegal miners are getting out of end and they seem to be spreading. There is need for relevant authorities to up their game so that they can be a step ahead of these culprits.

“The illegal miners are a threat to human life as well as livestock as they dig their pits and they leave them open. Farmers have lost their animals after they have fallen into these pits. Some of these illegal miners have invaded people’s homesteads and fields. How can people feed their families when their fields have been turned into panning sites?” he asked.

Headman Makhurane said villagers who try to take a stand against intrusion by illegal panners on their properties are either assaulted or they receive death threats.

Makwe village head, Mr Benjamin Dube said there is need for authorities to handle the matter with urgency. He said in his area illegal mining operations have a negative impact on youngsters as they were now skipping school.

“There is need for a shift in the manner in which authorities handle illegal mining issues. Youngsters are being influenced by these illegal mining activities and they are now missing school. The presence of illegal gold panners isn’t conducive for the entire community, especially youngsters. Something has to be done as soon as possible.

“Our youngsters are now engaging in crime at a tender age because of the influence of illegal gold panning,” he said.

The Matabeleland South Provincial Development Committee (PDC) recently set up a task force on illegal panning to deal with illegal gold panning in Nsindi area which is five kilometres out of Gwanda Town. The illegal panners have invaded people’s homesteads and fields. They are also mining next to a railway line. The task force will also handle other illegal gold panning activities taking place in the province. It will be headed by the Environmental Management Agency.

Water points in Matabeleland South province have also become a hotspot for illegal mining activities which is posing a huge threat to people and animals that use the water.

Illegal mining severely affects6 the environment as it lead to contamination of water bodies, siltation of rivers and dams, pollution of water and land and deforestation among other effects. Panning on river banks highly risky as the soil is heavily saturated with water and weak causing it to collapse if tampered with.  @DubeMatutu


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