HomeNewsParly grills Police Minerals Unit over gold impounds

Parly grills Police Minerals Unit over gold impounds

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THE Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy yesterday grilled the Police Minerals Unit for failing to plug holes and curb the smuggling of gold out of the country.

BY VENERANDA LANGA
SENIOR PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER

The committee, chaired by Gutu Central MP Lovemore Matuke (Zanu PF), asked police to also explain how they co-ordinated their roles with Fidelity Printers.

Last month, police told the committee that they were not obliged to hand over gold recovered from criminal scenes, raising suspicion that some officers could be corruptly disposing of the mineral into the informal market and pocketing the proceeds.

Head of the Police Minerals Unit Senior Assistant Commissioner Silence Pondo said all minerals recovered from crime scenes were presented to Fidelity Printers, adding that since 2006 no police officer had been arrested for theft of minerals.

However, members of the committee said they smelt a rat as there was no transparency in the transportation of impounded minerals, especially in remote areas.

“Fidelity Printers confirmed when they appeared before this committee that they were not receiving any gold impounded from crime scenes by the ZRP, and they even said they were going to write to you so that you comply with the required regulations,” Matuke said.

Musikavanhu MP Prosper Mutseyami (MDC-T) also chipped in: “You should tell the committee if you have equipment to prove that what you have impounded is real gold, diamonds or other minerals — whether you have scales to weigh how much gold that is — because we have heard of several incidents where gold impounded suddenly turned into brass and diamonds into crystals while it was in police custody.”

Pondo said whenever any criminal was arrested for smuggling or illegal possession of minerals, an exhibit officer from police immediately weighed and checked the type and quality of the mineral before handing it over to Fidelity Printers in the presence of the suspect.

He, however, admitted that the police unit’s operations were being hampered by lack of adequate funds, transport and shortage of equipment.

He said the unit had 22 branches in the country. The committee then asked him to bring a written document detailing the quality, quantity, destination and worth of gold his unit had impounded to date as well as measures taken on the criminals.

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