Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
SMALL-scale miners yesterday urged Government to swiftly address mine claim disputes which they say are linked to violence involving machete wielding gangs.
Machete wielding gangs have become a menace in mining areas where they are disrupting mining.
Small-scale miners welcomed a police decision to be tough on machete gangs saying it has taken too long to bring sanity in the small-scale mining sector.
The miners said mining claims disputes could not be separated from the machete gangs violence as some aggrieved miners were hiring the gangs.
“We are happy that police have stepped up their operations against the violent gangs. However, we feel that these gang members are just pawns in this rich industry which can contribute to national development. The gangs work for certain people who when faced with mining disputes from competitors deploy them to cause violence and anarchy,” said a small-scale miner from Bubi, who preferred not to be named.
Many miners are reported to have abandoned their claims as they fear being attacked by these sponsored gangs.
“The Ministry of Mines and Mining Development should address some of these problems because when we engage police, they sometimes say mine ownership wrangles have nothing to do with them as they are civil matters,” said the miner.
Another small-scale miner Mr Kevin Magwaza of Kevin Magwaza Mining Syndicate said he was a victim of gold related violence as he was illegally forced out of his mine after a claim dispute.
He said gangs were deployed to his mine and they took away ore as well as plant and equipment.
“Unscrupulous businesspeople are funding this violence being witnessed in order to take over other people’s mining claims,” said Mr Magwaza.
Zanu-PF Matabeleland South, Youth League chairperson Cde Washington Nkomo said youths in the province had raised the issue of making artisan mining professional.
“We are happy that police are now acting on the violent gangs. We had previously raised concerns over violence but these machete gangs seem to be above the law.
“Apart from the gangs, we are of the view that the Ministry should swiftly address concerns raised by artisan miners including swiftly addressing the issue of mining claim certificates. The claims disputes are problematic and have been linked to violence as well,” he said.
A comment could not be obtained from Ministry of Mines and Mining Development. — @nqotshili