Daily News  :: Southern Africa

Zimbabwe police kill illegal gold miner

Published: 18-JAN-07

Harare - Zimbabwean authorities have vowed to press on with a crackdown on illegal gold and diamond miners that has seen the arrest of nearly 25 000 people since November and left miner one dead.

Widespread outrage followed the fatal police shooting last week of a gold panner during a raid on an illegal mine in Shurugwi, about 300km south-west of Harare.

A police statement said 24 890 people were arrested and 3.6kg of gold and 7 868 diamonds had been recovered since the blitz was launched in November.

"In an effort to curb smuggling and mineral leakages the Zimbabwe Republic Police will carry out Operation Chikorokoza Chapera (No to Illegal Panning) to its finality," Home Minister Kembo Mohadi said. Mohadi expressed regret over the fatal shooting and damage to property by police.

"We, however, regret that during this operation there were some incidents that should not have occurred such as the shooting in Shurugwi and the destruction of huts ... and we hope that incidents such as these will not recur."

In July, Zimbabwe's central bank governor Gideon Gono urged the government to consider declaring mining areas as high security zones to combat illegal mining and smuggling.

Gold production in Zimbabwe last year dropped to 14 000kg from 21 300kg in 2004.

Gold is one of Zimbabwe's major hard currency earners, but the mining sector has been hamstrung by foreign exchange shortages which have prevented it from buying new equipment and supplies. Sapa-AFP

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