The Sunday News
Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, Gwanda Correspondent
POLICE in Matabeleland South have intensified raids in mining areas in the province after the realisation that people were violating Covid-19 lockdown and mining regulations.
In an interview, Matabeleland South provincial police spokesperson Chief Inspector Philisani Ndebele said they had arrested 339 people in mining areas of Matobo and Gwanda last week. He said the suspects had been arrested for operating without protective mining clothing, unnecessary movement, failure to wear Covid-19 protective gear such as masks and failure to observe other Covid-19 safety measures such as maintaining social distancing, sanitising and checking temperatures.
“We made observations that there is a lot of defiance in mining areas as people are not following operational regulations set under the Mines and Minerals Act as well as safety measures set by Government to curb the spread of Covid-19.
“We have therefore intensified raids with assistance from the police support unit. We have so far arrested 339 people in mining areas in Gwanda and Matobo. On Wednesday we arrested 115 in Matobo and 145 in Gwanda, on Thursday we arrested 15 in Gwanda and yesterday (Friday) we arrested 64 in Gwanda.
“We took them to the police station to pay a fine. The offences they are facing include failure to wear protective clothing such as helmets, gumboots and overalls according to the Mines and Minerals Act. Some are facing offences of failing to wear Covid-19 protective gear such as masks, others don’t have sanitisers at their work stations, others are not observing social distancing and others were arrested for unnecessary movement,” he said.
Chief Insp Ndebele said they collected fines amounting to $58 100 on Wednesday and Thursday. He said those who were arrested were also screened to check if they were not on the police wanted list. Chief Insp Ndebele said mine owners were expected to keep registers of their workers as they were expected to produce it during the raids. He said people that were found in the mines without appearing in the registers were arrested for unnecessary movement. He said mine owners who were housing workers that did not appear in their registers were also being arrested.
Chief Insp Ndebele said all mines were supposed to be fenced in order to control movement of people.
“We urge miners to observe stipulations as we will continue to conduct these raids. We will also target illegal miners during our raids. We are also on the look out for shops that are not observing Covid-19 safety measures such as sanitising customers upon entry, checking their temperature and maintaining social distancing,” he said. @DubeMatutu