We might be buried alive: Penhalonga residents

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Illegal miners cut down trees before gouging into the earth in search of gold, and for them, the impact on the environment is none of their business

BY KENNETH NYANGANI

PENHALONGA residents have raised fears that they might be buried alive in trenches dug by illegal miners in the area.

The remarks were made by Penhalonga Residents and Ratepayers Trust chairperson Weston Makoni during Zivai Community Empowerment Trust community engagement meeting on environmental awareness campaign in Penhalonga on Saturday.

He said residents feared being buried alive if the digging of the underground tunnels by illegal panners continued. The collapse of the tunnels, likely during heavy rains, will have devastating effects on Tsvingwe and Chinyanjera residents.

“We are now living in danger because of illegal gold mining activities on surrounding mountains. We might be buried alive if heavy rains come just like the Cyclone Idai which killed many people in Chimanimani in 2018,” he said

“Our mountains are now weak because of the tunnels, we hope our government is going to address the matter as soon as possible.”

A Mines ministry official Innocent Murapa confirmed the issue of illegal gold mining in Penhalonga.

“When you are mining underground, you are near to death and you will be smelling death. It is our concern as government that we have realised that soil in Penhalonga mountains is now very weak and a disaster is looming if this is not addressed,” he said.

Recently, Africa University raised concerns over illegal gold mining at the campus claiming that this was affecting its farming projects.

Mutasa South Member of Parliament Regai Tsunga (MDC Alliance) wrote a letter to the government to address the issue.