Gold panners encroach school


Minister of Mines Walter Chidhakwa

KWEKWE — Gold panners here have become a menace.
In their hunt for the bullion, the panners have dug tunnels under classroom blocks at Globe & Phoenix Primary School, which supports communities around Globe & Phoenix Mine.
The school sits on a gold field and no matter how much security the institution has tried to set up, the panners have always found a way of burrowing through the ground under the school.
The situation has left the school community living in fear of collapsing into the ground.
The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) was the first to raise alarm, fearing a possible catastrophe at the school, after discovering a tunnel drilled from Mapurazi Mining Syndicate Mine encroaching into the school yard.
Amakorokoza, as the gold panners are known, have reportedly been digging the tunnels during the night, away from the glare of security.
The tunnels have been a cause for concern to school authorities, who fear that school children might lose their lives in the event of the ground collapsing into the shafts.
The Financial Gazette last week visited the school located near Mapurazi Mining Syndicate where security has since been tightened to deter the panners.
James Chimuka, an executive at Mapurazi Mining Syndicate, said they tried unsuccessfully to stop the illegal miners from encroaching into the school through their claim but the illegal miners became violent.
“We have been engaging in continuous dialogue with the police and other stakeholders who can help us contain the situation. We have since armed our security because the gold panners are violent,” said Chimuka.
Chimuka said the mine had also engaged the school’s security to restore order and protect the learning institution.
“The gold panners have been digging shafts in the school yard which is not a good thing. We have since sealed all the shafts and we are currently helping the school security to maintain order,” Chimuka said.
Liberty Gwerume, a local resident, told the Financial Gazette that the gold panners were putting the lives of school children at risk.
“They are unnecessarily exposing children to the danger of collapsing into the mine shafts because of gold. The police should step in and prosecute such offenders,” said Gwerume.
EMA’s environmental manager, Benson Bhasera, urged Mapurazi to put in place mechanisms to deal with gold panners.
“We know that it’s an issue of survival, but as you can see, the school is in danger so we need to work towards stopping this madness. We will continue with our raids and we will work with the police who have the capacity to enforce law and order,” said Bhasera.
Kwekwe has since time immemorial been teeming with gold panners, who have caused havoc to the environment.- By Nyasha Chingono

Follow us on Twitter on @FingazLive and on Facebook – The Financial Gazette