POLICE in Mashonaland Central province have arrested 1 621 illegal miners in Mazowe and Shamva under the ongoing “Chikorokoza Ngachipere” blitz.

Addressing Bindura residents under a crime awareness campaign last week, officer commanding Mashonaland Central province Commissioner David Mahoya said police have launched several operations to restore sanity in the mining communities following carnage wrought by machete-wielding gold panners.

“In a bid to promote public safety and security, we have launched numerous operations which are producing tangible results, operations Chikorokoza Ngachipere this month we have arrested 1 621 illegal miners,” Mahoya said.

“We also have operation no to dangerous weapons and 30 suspects were arrested, and operation end to touting, 91 touts were arrested; and 189 unregistered taxis were impounded.”
The commissioner said the gold rush in the province had triggered a spike in the crime rate.

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“It is sad to note that our province continues to be plagued by persistent crimes such as robberies, murders and assaults by machete gangs, this has been notably in places like Mazowe, Glendale, Bindura and Shamva where a gold rush has attracted thousands of artisanal miners from other provinces.

“As a result of this situation we have seen an increase in the following crimes: Armed and plain robberies, vandalism of Zesa, Zinwa and telecommunications boosters infrastructure, degradation of the environment, and carrying of dangerous weapons, among other crimes,” Mahoya said.

So far 77 people have been jailed two years each for machete-related crimes.

Meanwhile, Concession mortuary is flooded with unidentified dead bodies which are yet to be collected.

“I can confirm that the hospital is overwhelmed. We have a lot of unidentified dead bodies in our mortuary so those who are coming with specific death cases we are referring them to Harare,” Concession district medical officer Rachel Sosera said.

Sosera, however, refused to comment on reports that most of the unclaimed bodies were victims of machete fights.