THE Environmental Management Agency (Ema) has ejected a group of illegal gold panners that had invaded Norton town cemetery, desecrating a graveyard in search of the precious mineral.
Ema spokesperson Steady Kangata confirmed the development yesterday, adding that the group vacated the site after NewsDay exposed their illegal activities last month.
“They are no longer working because we have given them an order to stop operating there,” Kangata said.
“They also did not have an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and so now we are chasing them to rehabilitate the area.”
The panners, who were led by a Zanu PF activist identified as Sheila Mabasa also known as Comrade Yondo, had invaded the cemetery threatening to dig up graves.
However, Kangata said after vacating the graveyard the panners were yet to remove their hired excavator from the site.
“They still have their excavator there, but it is no longer functional. We want them to rehabilitate the area following the damage they have caused to it,” Kangata said.
In a similar incident two years ago, gold panners invaded Old Gaths Mine cemetery in Mashava near Masvingo in search of a gold belt that runs under the cemetery.
In January, Ema had to order the closure of part of Globe and Phoenix Primary School in Kwekwe after the school’s infrastructure was extensively damaged by gold panners.