BCC rangers open fire at sand poachers

Gwabalanda residents woke up to the sound of gunshots on Monday morning when sand poachers clashed with rangers from the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) who were forced to fire shots to nab the culprits.

The council rangers came across the sand poachers moving with their loot in a truck around 6 am, along the main road in Gwabalanda and chased after them.

As they tried to flee, the sand poachers turned into Mlingo Street in Gwabalanda and a fight ensued between the two groups.

Residents who live on that street told CITE that the sand poachers armed with shovels and picks fought with the council rangers, who were allegedly forced to fire gunshots at the culprits.

“This fight took place around 6 am when we were just waking up and it was scary to watch. The sand poachers were running away from the rangers and left the main road and came to our street and the commotion started. The sand poachers even hit a pole with their lorry and that pole is still lying on the ground,” said one of the Gwabalanda residents who refused to be identified.

“The sand poachers called for backup and about eight more came into the scene armed with shovels and they threatened to assault people who were there. This resulted in shots being fired as the rangers tried to arrest them.”

The council rangers also shot at their vehicle, puncturing two front tyres, said the residents.

“Two poachers were arrested by the council rangers as the other two ran away leaving their truck. A tow truck came and towed the sand poachers’ around 9 am,” said another resident.

Police arrived at the scene around 9 am, after the two sand poachers had been taken by the council rangers, residents noted.

Residents called on the authorities to be strict and apply heavy penalties to sand poachers as they are destroying the environment.

Contacted for comment, Bulawayo police spokesperson, Inspector Abednico Ncube, referred questions to his deputy, Assistant Inspector Nomalanga Msebele, who said her desk had not received that particular report.

“From my memos, I did not have that report. You can ask the council,” she said.

Bulawayo City Council Corporate Communications Manager, Nesisa Mpofu, confirmed the incident.

“It’s true there were clashes and the sand poachers’ trucks were confiscated. The one carrying sand was towed and impounded to stores and the other offending vehicle, which had come to reinforce was taken to the police camp,” she said.

“The sand poaching society is now very rowdy, lawless and dangerous.”

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