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Bulawayo City Faces Environmental Degradation Due to Illegal Gold Panning

Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has raised concerns over the invasion of gold panners, leading to environmental degradation in two of its suburbs, Queens Park East and Emhlangeni.

In the latest full council meeting minutes, Housing and Community Services director Dictor Khumalo reported rampant illegal gold panning activities within the city. Numerous arrests have been made in response to these activities.

“Joint and routine patrols have been conducted, resulting in the apprehension of 18 illegal gold panners who were subsequently handed over to Esigodini Police Station. Additionally, a total of 61 hand tools, including four detector machines, were confiscated. Mitigation strategies are being implemented to address these illegal activities, including minerals and sand poaching, across Greater Bulawayo,” the minutes stated.

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The council emphasized the concentration of routine patrols in peri-urban areas where sand excavators posed a significant challenge. During these patrols, 25 tickets were issued to various offenders, with 22 tickets already paid amounting to US$1,246.52, while three tickets remain outstanding, totaling $1,275.28.

To combat the illegal invasion of council land, joint operations with the Queens Park Police were conducted on January 26, particularly targeting Emhlangeni’s Wolly Dog Mine area.

Furthermore, BCC has taken action by impounding 35 trucks involved in sand poaching activities.

In addition to illegal gold panning, the council highlighted challenges stemming from firewood poaching exacerbated by load shedding. These issues underscore the broader environmental concerns facing the city and the efforts required to address them effectively.

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