The Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) has revealed that machete wielding gangs operating under the Ziga group invaded gold claims in Matebeleland to steal money, gold and mining equipment during the lockdown.
According to the ZELA Third series of the Mining Sector and Communities Situational Report,
community monitors reported that a group of thugs came from Kadoma during the lockdown to harass miners.
“In Bubi there were reports of people who invaded gold claims at night to steal money, gold and mining equipment.
“The thugs forced a miner near Badala to jump into a shaft because they had not found money on the site.
“The worker was critically injured and is in hospital. The team is popularly known as the Ziga team.
“However, with the assistance of the Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) the gang members were arrested,” read the report.
The report added that “Vectus Mine in Gwanda, had some machinery, water pipes and hammer mill engines stolen during the lockdown.
“This has forced the company to scale down its operations, reducing working hours to allow workers to complete the security process and retreat into their quarters for safety.
“New cases of machete gold gangs and criminals were also reported in Maphisa in Matebeleland on the 2nd of May 2020 where a group of seven raided Goodcow Mine armed with machetes and axes and took away 12 x 50 kg bags of gold ore. However, police confirmed arrest of the gangs.”
Meanwhile, the report added that following the announcement of the exemptions many artisanal gold miners and community members in Mazowe flooded the artisanal and small-scale mining sector as a means of livelihood.
“Considering that no significant economic activities were taking place during the first phase of the lockdown, the economic avenues of survival were shut.
“This development can be partly explained by the fact that during the first lockdown phase and up to date, informal business activities remain banned and people saw gold mining as the only avenue to make money since it is exempted from the lockdown.
“So long the lockdown on informal businesses activities on which the majority of people in Zimbabwe rely on continues, the number of people going into artisanal gold mining will exponentially increase.
“There were also reports that some artisanal miners were searching for gold on other people’s claims considering that some were not back at their work sites ,” read the report.