Illegal gold panners invade Nhlangano area

By Promise Dube

Villagers in Insiza have raised concerns that illegal gold miners have infiltrated Nhlangano, an area which is located at the confluence of the Insiza and uMzingwane rivers.

Due to previous illicit mining activity, the Nhlangano area was fenced off two years ago following a government mandate in response to environmental concerns made by the Environmental Management Agency (EMA).

Before the area was shut down, people who were mining there were mostly locals from Godlwayo, coming from areas such as Saphila, Sidzibe, Nyamine and other surrounding areas.

However, sources speaking on the condition of anonymity informed CITE that they suspected the illegal gold panners who had now invaded Nhlangano and were excavating at the covered pits were youth affiliated with the ruling Zanu PF party.

“There are a number of people who are mining there currently and we hear they are Zanu PF youth, while others are from Gwanda. They have started mining at the river and there are also people who are said to be in charge of the area,” sources alleged.

When contacted for comment, Insiza Ward Three councillor Dumisani Mathuthu stated he had heard there was some illegal mining going on there but had yet to visit.

“It has come to my attention that there are people who are mining in that area. I know Nhlangano was closed by EMA in 2021. I have not gone to the area since I heard about these operations but I will visit the site,” the councillor said.

Mathuthu noted Nhlangano closed because the illegal miners used chemicals that were dangerous to humans  as well as livestock if consumed.

“There is a dam next to a boarding school at Jason Ziyaphapha Moyo, which is a source of water to the school and locals. The use of chemicals that flow into that water is dangerous as the dam may be contaminated and no longer safe or usable if such mining activities continue to take place there,” Mathuthu said.

EMA Environmental Education Manager, Amkela Sidange, stated Nhlangano area was a hotspot and vulnerable to illegal mining, and that the agency always kept a watch on it, asserting  no mining had occurred since their last check.

“As the agency, we are keeping a close monitoring eye on it and within the communities and surrounding areas. There are people put on standby to be checking the goings on, who communicate with us promptly. At the moment we cross checked and there is no visible activity that those people who are around the area picked up on,” said the EMA official.

“The last time we monitored as well there was nothing that was really ongoing on the ground and I remember this area because last time we ordered the illegal miners we found there to rehabilitate and they did so.”

Sidange stated that EMA highly discouraged illegal mining because it was a disservice to the country’s efforts of growing the economy through mining.

“At the same time, illegal mining is not good for the integrity of the environment,” said the EMA education manager.

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