Mutare — Ministry of Mines has roped in the police and army to halt illegal mining operations at Odzi 1 and 2 mines, where at least four artisanal miners have been killed.
Operations at the disused mines have of late brewed spates of violent confrontations among rival artisanal miners leading, recently, to the fatal shooting of a gang member of the notorious machete wielding MaShurugwi.
Manicaland acting police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Luxon Chananda confirmed the joint operations but could not provide details.
Chananda said the program was implemented by the district operations office which had the mandate of the police to ensure that there is peace in its jurisdiction.
"I can confirm that we carried out a joint operation with the Ministry of Mines but I cannot provide details because this was a district operation so I will also need to be upraised on the operation.
"However, it is the mandate of the police to respond to any distress calls and ensure that there is peace in the country," said Chananda.
However, inside sources privy to the on goings have said when the joint operation swooped on the artisanal miners they had already been warned, as there were no arrests effected.
The source blamed Fidelity's no questions policy on buying gold, for fueling illegal mining activities along Mutare river, as well as a hidden hand of complex syndicates linked to politicians.
Allegations are that the artisanal miners were tipped off by insiders to desert the premises before the joint operation swooped in to clear the area, as similar operation have also failed to nab any suspects.
"What is surprising is that we carried out on-site inspections at Odzi 1 and 2 and we ascertained that there was involvement of political gurus in the operations there.
"Our challenge is that after these inspections we then launched a joint operation with the police and army but when they got to the ground there was not even one illegal miner found on the ground.
"Suspicion is obviously there that there could some form of inside tipping off to alert the people on the ground, because this is not a single occasion but a recurrence of similar events where we go to swoop on the illegal miners but we find the place deserted.
"Problem lies with government no questions asked basis because almost every plot owner in the area is now turning into mining as the area has rich deposits of gold.
"This has fomented the chaos in Odzi as no one has control over operations because everyone is now venturing into mining with condonation from government because there are no questions asked when they deliver their gold," said the source.