The government has instigated investigations on cases of corruption involving highly placed police officers and artisanal miners in various parts of the country as death cases involving illegal miners continue to rise.
This follows the death of nine illegal miners in an explosion at Jumbo Mine, Mazowe, Mashonaland Central after one of the syndicates failed to communicate that it was detonating explosives underground.
The group entered through the Connaught main shaft which is inside the mine complex, a place guarded by security guards.
The following day on May 26, while the group was passing through level two intending to go to level nine an explosive believed to be dynamite, went off.
The explosive is believed to have been set by another team of illegal gold miners whose identity is yet to be ascertained.
Of note is that the mine stopped operations in September last year as the company, Metallon Gold Mine, could not sustain operational costs.
Deputy Mines and Minerals Development Minister, Polite Kambamura, who visited the site yesterday, said he was appalled by the level of corruption that has seen a rapid rise death cases of illegal gold miners, not only in Mazowe but countrywide.
He said the government will look at why mining companies that have closed continue to allow illegal miners in their premises.
“We are going to call on owners of such mines to tell us why they are not mining. We are risking the lives of many people. If a mine stays for long without any activity, the ground weakens,” Kambamura said.
“Some of those miners are going underground to mine on pillars. The moment they mine on pillars, then there is no more support and the ground will fall off.”
Mashonaland Central police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Petros Masikati said investigations are underway.
“Investigations are underway and we have our officers on the ground right now, so far we have managed to identify four bodies and we are still withholding their names until their next of keen are advised,” he said.
Metallon Gold said regretted the incident in a statement.
“Metallon Corporation regrets to advise that on Sunday, May 26, 2019, a fatal incident occurred at Mazowe Mine, a mine which is closed and on care and maintenance,” the mine said in a statement.
“Illegal panners invaded the mine and took part in unlawful explosive blasting.
“Tragically, nine panners lost their lives. None of these miners were employees of Metallon and all those involved with keeping the mine on care and maintenance have been accounted for. The investigation is on-going and Metallon will provide further updates as necessary,” reads the statement.
But with the country’s economic blues continuing, unemployed and desperate people will resort to anything that will sustain their lives.