MATSHEUMHLOPE residents in Bulawayo have called on the police and the local authority to arrest illegal gold panning activities taking place in the affluent suburb.
BY LINDA CHINOBVA
More than 200 illegal gold panners invaded the suburb a month ago, with the numbers swelling by the day as the gold rush escalates.
But disgruntled residents said they were now living in fear of the rowdy panners, who are operating barely 20 metres from some of the houses in the area.
“Unless things have changed, Matsheumhlope is a residential area and we are wondering why all of a sudden, there’s mining activity taking place here,” Tendai Sithole, a resident, said.
“It is not a secret that illegal miners are known for their rowdy behaviour and how are we expected to feel safe in our neighbourhood knowing that we have amakorokoza in our midst?”
Another resident, Vimbai Moyo, said cases of theft in the neighbourhood were increasing.
“As it is, there are reports of theft from some of the residents. Residents are losing wheelbarrows, hosepipes, among other things, to these people, who have invaded our territory,” she said.
The residents said recently the gold panners started a fire in the bush, which they failed to contain, posing a threat to properties.
Ward 4 councillor Silas Chigora said he was yet to engage the local authority on the way forward.
“I am aware of the issue and as it stands, I am yet to engage the city council and discuss on how best we can deal with this issue that is troubling our residents,” he said.
Gold panners, who often engage in bloody turf wars in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces, have for long been terrorising people who reside in areas they operate from.
Early this year, over 100 armed panners besieged Vumbachikwe Mine in Gwanda, where they dug up tunnels at villagers’ doorsteps and under their homes, threatening villagers’ lives.