Dozens of illegal gold panners seeking to make a “quick buck” at Sherwood Block in Kwekwe following a gold rush triggered by the discovery of over 100kg of pure gold nuggets in the area, have been arrested and are expected in court today.
Those arrested include a police officer (name supplied) identified by top security sources who was picked up for loitering for the purposes of gold panning amid reports other police officers sent to secure the area had now turned to panning themselves.
Kwekwe district police spokesperson Isaac Mhondiwa refused to comment on the matter, referring all questions to provincial spokesman Patrick Chademana who could, however, not be reached.
Since Zanu PF claimed they had taken over the gold fields last Friday, police have sealed the area with no gold mining taking place.
Zanu PF provincial security officer Owen “Mudha” Ncube confirmed the development and warned party supporters not to go to Sherwood until they were given the “green light” otherwise they would be severely dealt with by the police.
“We are waiting for a certificate to be issued before we start the mining process. Our youths, war veterans and their children will be allowed in to mine. We want to warn our supporters not to interfere with the police. Let them do their job,” said Ncube.
Police also impounded cars belonging to the panners who were forced to flee the area leaving their vehicles behind.
Informed police sources at the heavily fortified “gold fields” disclosed a number of other panners were reportedly brutally attacked by police dogs after resisting orders to vacate the area now registered as gold claims under Cornelius Mupereri and Josphat “Joe Gold” Sibanda, both Zanu PF functionaries in Kwekwe.
Zimbabwe Federation of Miners Midlands chairman Arnold Mandava told NewsDay police had unleashed dogs on panners who became confrontational at the fields.
“Some daring panners advanced towards the police late on Friday forcing them to set dogs on them. They even called for reinforcements and two water cannons were brought in as more people invaded the area trying to get their hands on the gold deposits,” Mandava said.
Panners who spoke to NewsDay said police officers securing the area had also turned into panners.
“The reason why we attacked the police is because they are getting the gold for themselves while they stop us from panning,” said a panner, who refused to be named.