Miners invade Upper Ncema

According to the latest BCC report, Khumalo said council conducted patrols with Esigodini police.

THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has apprehended several gold miners for alleged environment degradation and issued fines worth more than US$14 000.

Housing and community services director Dictor Khumalo made the report to council on environmental issues and degradation in the greater Bulawayo and water catchment areas.

According to the latest BCC report, Khumalo said council conducted patrols with Esigodini police.

“During these patrols, five illegal gold panners were arrested and handed over to Esigodini court of law for trial. A total of 28 gold panners were arrested from January to March 2024.

“Upper Ncema has been invaded by the Chinese and a visit to the site was done on March 21 by senior parks officer, lands inspector, town planning and water and sanitation staff,” the minutes read.

“In Greater Bulawayo (minerals and sand poaching), extended blitz and routine patrols were conducted. During these patrols a total of 40 tickets were issued to various offenders. From the 40 tickets issued, only 23 had been paid worth US$1 873,09. A total of 17 tickets were still outstanding with a value of US$14 264,88.”

On pit sand extraction and sales, the council indicated that only six trucks were recorded and US$380 was collected from sales.

The council said rangers confiscated tools used in both sand poaching and gold panning such as 12 scotchcarts, three wheel barrows and hand tools including three shovels, four chisels and three hammers.

“A consignment of hand tools, scotchcarts and wheelbarrows was handed over to stores for auctioning,” the minutes read.

The council also revealed that it was facing the challenge of open air worshippers.

“Open air worshipping is a concern to the local authority. A questionnaire and programme targeting to mitigate the distress of open air worshipping had been started as from 8 April 2024. The results would be reported in the next committee meeting accordingly,” read the minutes.

Mthwakazi Republic Party activists recently raided apostolic sect shrines in the bushes between Barbourfields and Entumbane to force shrine owners to pull down their flags and remove clothes which they described as anti- local culture.

However, council later warned the activists and residents not take the law into their own hands on the issue of open air worshipping.

Council noted the impact of the El Nino-induced drought which resulted in an increase in stray animals due to poor pastures countrywide.

“Shortage of patrol limited the coverage of the hotspots. At the moment one van is functional in Greater Bulawayo and one van at the water catchment area,” the minutes read.

“On March 6, an operation against wood poachers took place. During the patrol nine scotchcarts were impounded and stored at SAST Khami. On March 20, rangers attended a workshop on anti-stocktheft at Cold Storage Company.”

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