AT LEAST 10 police officers have been arrested for allegedly prospecting for gold without a licence at David Whitehead Textiles effluent ponds in contravention of the Mines and Minerals Act.
David Whitehead Textiles effluent ponds were invaded by illegal gold panners during a gold rush late last year, during which a machete gang leader Taurai Mutandwa was fatally shot by police.
Members from the Police Support Unit and Duty Uniform branch were then deployed to protect the ponds.
Constables Bernard Musindo Hwenga (34), Munyaradzi Mandibvira (30), Dzidzai Bamu (35), Mathew Shumbairerwa (33), Stephen Shambare (31), Emmanuel Mashiringo (35), Priscilla Matione (34), Dickson Mugwagwa (33), Wilson Kurwara and Blessing Sakarombe, who were on duty at the ponds, reportedly failed to give satisfactory answers after it was discovered that gold ore had been extracted from the pit.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed the arrests.
“As ZRP, we do not condone any criminal activities by the police or members of the public,” he said.
It is alleged that on April 27, 2020, Superintendent Chibira of Operations Chegutu District, visited the site to check on the police officers and discovered that illegal mining activities had been taking place while Hwenga, Bamu and Shumbairerwa were on guard. A team of top officers from the police intelligence office, Criminal Investigation Department; Minerals, Flora and ;Fauna Unit and Crime and Operations Unit visited the site and found indicators that mineral ore had been extracted from the pit.
Officers from the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development Mashonaland West Province visited the site to establish whether the ground had been tampered with since it was last inspected in November 2019.
The accused police officers reportedly tried to cover their tracks by refilling the pit before pouring water on top, but anomalies were found and they failed to give satisfactory answers on what had happened.