Maputo — The Mozambican police on Wednesday morning arrested 15 people who were illegally mining, mostly for gold, in Sussundenga district, in the central province of Manica.
The men were arrested in the Mussapa-Chjimanimani area, and are all Mozambicans of ages ranging from 19 to 60. During the operation, the police also seized two kilos of the drug cannabis, more than 80 spades, pumps and other instruments used to excavate for gold and precious stones.
The spokesperson for the Manica Provincial Police Command, Elsidia Filipe, told reporters that the arrests occurred during a police patrol aimed at combating the illegal exploitation of natural resources, particularly along the border with Zimbabwe. Chimanimani is an areas rich in mineral resources, and so illegal miners, from both Mozambique and Zimbabwe, descend on it looking for gold.
The lead in the operation against the illegal miners was taken by the police unit that specialises in the protection of natural resources.
“We heard that illegal mining was taking place in that area”, said Filipe. “We had to intervene to block the activity. Our mission is also to protect these resources”.
The purpose of the police operation, she added, was also to protect the miners themselves, since illegal mining disregards basic safety rules, and, as a result the pits the miners dig frequently collapse on top of them.
“We are working to end illegal mining”, said Filipe, “because it is done without following the techniques recommended for safety. We are worried because there have already been deaths. So we shall continue these activities until we put an end to illegal mining”.