The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) has expressed concern over sand poaching activities around Bulawayo which have left outlying areas with unreclaimed pits that pose a danger to residents.

EMA said the most affected areas were Cowdray Park, Pumula suburbs and council’s Mazwi Farm.

Speaking to Southern Eye, EMA provincial manager for Bulawayo Metropolitan province, Decent Ndlovu said illegal sand abstraction was now rampant in the city.

“We still have a very big problem, as illegal sand extraction has not scaled down. People buy from these sand poachers because it is cheaper to buy from them as they will be charging half the price,” he said.

- Advertisement -

“This becomes a serious problem, especially during the rainy season, water collects in (the pits created by sand poachers), then you find cases of children and even adults drowning in these open pits that are not filled up after the sand extraction.”

Ndlovu said people were reluctant to expose the poachers.

“What these poachers do is unacceptable and we need to change that and these poachers are known, but some people are scared to name and shame them,” he said.

“We also appeal to residents to buy from licenced people so as to reduce poaching and we also feel the Zimbabwe Republic Police can assist us in arresting these people. We cannot operate in a vacuum, but if they are arrested or legal action is taken, the better.

“We cannot enforce without armed people. For example, council has rangers helping out and whoever we get hold of we will name and shame like what we did in the solid waste management.”

Last year, EMA said anyone caught digging or transporting sand illegally would be fined up to $5 000 or face one-year imprisonment.