BY SILAS NKALA BULAWAYO City Council (BCC) has raked in over $1 million through fines collected from environment violators who include gold panners and sand poachers.
Latest BCC minutes show that housing and community services director Dictor Khumalo raised concern over environmental infractions in the city, which have been causing land degradation in greater Bulawayo and water catchment areas.
BCC minutes say combined patrols were conducted after two council rangers were assaulted and injured during skirmishes with sand poachers in Pumula.
“One of the rangers was sent to Mpilo Hospital and was discharged the same day. Currently all patrols are jointly conducted with Luveve and Pumula police.
“During the patrols, a total of 112 tickets were issued to various offenders and fines from 103 tickets had already been paid with a sum of $1 128 123 realised. A total of nine tickets were outstanding with a sum of $571 494,” the minutes read in part.
“A total of 27 truckloads were recorded at the two legal pit sand sites, and a total sum of $108 657 was collected. There was a serious decline in trucks recorded at the two sites due to shortages of patrol vehicles, manpower and a poor road network, especially the Mazwi pit (Outside the Pumula area).”
The minutes further indicated that the total value of all tickets paid for was $1 243 558, while $158 733,25 was realised through the hire of amphitheatre, making a grand total of $1 402 291,25 and the value of unpaid tickets $573 983.
In the water catchment area, council reported that in March, joint patrols were abandoned by the police after the council patrol vehicle was involved in an accident and was down the whole month.
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“Though patrols were conducted on foot, 25 illegal gold panners were arrested and their hand tools were confiscated. These include three detectors, 22 shovels, 12 picks, 28 crowbars, one wheel barrow, three axes, one digger and one mobile phone.
“All the tools and panners were handed over to the police. The van has since been repaired and normal patrols have commenced,” the council report read.
BCC rangers face a perennial problem of panning, especially in the Umzingwane catchment area where all the six city supply dams are located.
The outskirts of Pumula have also experienced rampant sand and wood poaching which have often triggered running battles between council security and poachers.
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