Own Correspondent|POLICE in Kwekwe on Monday finally decided to bring sanity to Kwekwe when they conducted raids on hundreds of illegal miners doing their business within meters of the city’s central business district.
The raid saw the arrest of 215 of the suspected illegal gold panners.
Police deployed four truckloads of its highly armed anti riot details to conduct the raids saw the police spend long hours engaged in running battles with the miners.
The running battles even spilled into Kwekwe Central with the CBD in virtual police lockdown as the law enforcement agents were hunting for the illegal miners.
Kwekwe Central police could not accommodate all those arrested, and they had to be distributed Redcliff and Amaveni holding cells.
Authorities had to screen some of the artisanal miners who ended up paying fines.
Midlands Chief Prosecutor Samuel Pedzisayi said in an interview that authorities had to conduct vetting and clearance sessions at the court.
“I am based in Gweru, but we had to come down to Kwekwe because of the nature of the case. We realised that personnel here will be overwhelmed as 215 were arrested.
“However, it was realised that some who were arrested were at legally registered mining claims. So, we had to free those, and depending on the veracity of the issue after screening, some had to be released and be allowed to pay fines.
“What we want to do is to deal with the real culprits who are illegally prospecting; those indeed need to face prosecution and are going to face the wrath of the law. We don’t condone illegal mining activities,” he said.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Lawyer Artwell Chinamatira who was representing some of the miners said the dragnet was inhumane.
“These arrests are very inhumane the only crime committed by my clients is to fend for their families. These are the people who are trying to eke out an honest living for their families,” he said.