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JOC security forces pounce on illegal gold panners

SECURITY forces and members of the Manicaland Joint Operations Command (JOC) last week raided artisanal miners operating in gold-rich Odzi district to restore sanity following the death of four panners in bloody clashes at Odzi 1 and 2 mines.

Recently, JOC has also raided illegal miners along Mutare River where alluvial gold mining is rampant.

Manicaland provincial mines director Omen Dube yesterday confirmed JOC’s intervention.

“We raided illegal miners in Odzi, especially after a recent incident where a miner was killed. Police and the army invaded illegal miners in Odzi. I will be in office on Monday (today) so that we can conduct a meeting on how effective the operation was,” he told NewsDay.

“We want this operation to be continuous because with the economic hardships, we are very aware that they (illegal miners) are going to come back again.

“We have done similar operations along Mutare River, where alluvial mining is rampant. You know that it’s easy to trap gold along Mutare River, so the miners need easy money.”

President Emmerson Mnangagwa warned at a Zimbabwe Miners Federation indaba in Gweru last month that violence at gold claims around the country would be ruthlessly death with by security forces. This followed incidents of deaths from machete attacks as rival gangs pounced on each other and on ordinary citizens in gold-rich areas such as Zhombe, Shurugwi, Kwekwe, Kadoma, Chegutu, Chakari and Chinhoyi, among others.

Police last month also banned the carrying of machetes in all the gold-rich areas around the country.

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