POLICE said they have recovered 21 kilogrammes of gold worth nearly $1 million since January this year, with most of the recoveries made at the Beitbridge and Plumtree border posts as smugglers attempted to cross into neighbouring South Africa and Botswana.
BY NHAU MANGIRAZI/JAIROS SAUNYAMA
Police Minerals and Border Control Unit (MBCU) boss Chief Superintendent Didymus Masiwa Sakarombe told journalists during an investigative extractive industry workshop in Harare yesterday that 225 people had been arrested for trying to smuggle the gold out of the country.
“We have recovered 21 027 grammes of gold worth $960 521,85 since January this year. And 225 arrests were made,” Sakarombe said.
He, however, said despite the massive arrests, the police failed to secure convictions of large scale gold thefts due to lack of cohesion between the law enforcement agents and the judiciary.
“The sad truth is that as MBCU, we have lost virtually all cases involving large quantities of gold. We made several interceptions at border posts and recovered large quantities of gold which was stashed in false compartments of respective motor vehicles.
“Surprisingly, the accused persons would deny any knowledge of the presence of gold in their cars. Licensed persons from the places of origin would come and claim the gold, thereby exonerating the suspects. We have engaged the Attorney-General for possible amendments to the Gold Trade Act, as it stands it is not water tight,” he said.
Sakarombe bemoaned the lack of funds to award whistleblowers and informants who assisted police in curbing the theft of mineral resources.
“We have no funds to pay informers. This explains why there are more interceptions in South Africa where informers are given 10% of the value of the contraband in the event of a recovery,” he said.
The workshop was organised by the Centre for Investigative Journalism in Zimbabwe that saw journalists from all the country’s provinces being trained on how to unearth leakages in the mining industry.