Cops ‘loot’ gold ore from mines
A CABINET Minister has blasted the police in the Midlands province for allegedly looting gold ore from mines, forcing their way into mining operations as well as taking advantage of gold rushes to loot the precious stone.
Responding to an outcry from villagers in Silobela who accuse the police of taking sides in gold wars for kickbacks and chasing away gold panners in case of gold rushes, Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Walter Chidhakwa, said strong decisions would be made against corrupt police officers.
Speaking during a ministerial visit to Peace Mine Turtle 54 in Silobela on Friday, Minister Chidhakwa said together with the Minister of Home Affairs, Ignatius Chombo they had received reports of police allegedly engaging in corrupt mining activities in the province.
Minister Chidhakwa said he was pained that the police were corrupt when they should be taking the leading role in seeing to it that procedure is followed so that the Government benefits from the mineral resources in the province.
“I’m pained that we hear that the police are corrupt, that they are taking sides for kickbacks, at times mining illegally. They are taking ore from mines. We will expose you, we are watching you. We worked well with the police in Marange diamond fields and order was restored and we should be doing the same here,” he charged.
“You (police) are the key in this whole thing. You are the custodians of the law but you are taking sides. We worked well in Marange, we took decisions, hard decisions and we will take decisions here.”
Minister Chidhakwa said he had spoken to the Commissioner General of Police, Dr Augustine Chihuri with regard to the alleged corrupt activities by the police especially in Silobela area.
“We want peace here, the children and mothers must have confidence in the police force, and we don’t want indiscipline. I spoke to Cde Chihuri, we know what is happening, we have great respect for the police force, we have had good experiences in Marange where you exemplified and the world knows what a great police force we have. That respect should also come here in Silobela, if you are not right, we will remove you, and we are taking command,” he said.
Silobela villagers led by their four chiefs; Ruya, Govo, Malisa and Sigodo raised concerns about the conduct by some rogue police officers.
The ministerial delegation led by Minister Chidhakwa had gone to Peace Mine to bring normalcy after the closure of the mine in February.
The community demanded the ouster of the then chairperson Mr Arthur Nkiwane who was accused of working with the police to loot gold at the expense of the community.
Other members of the delegation were the Minister of Small to Medium Enterprises and Cooperative Development, Sithembiso Nyoni, Home Affairs Deputy Minister Obedingwa Mguni and Minister Chidhakwa’s deputy, Fred Moyo.
Mr Nkiwane has since been booted out with the Government handing over the mine to the community.
Efforts to get a comment from national police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba were fruitless as her mobile phone was not reachable. — @pchitumba1
Minister Walter Chidhakwa