POLICE have recovered almost $1 million worth of gold and arrested 225 people for illegal possession of gold in the first six months of this year, a senior police officer has revealed.
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Speaking during a media workshop on the extractive industry in Harare today Chief Superintendent Didmus Sakarombe of the police Minerals and Border Control Unit said since January this year a total of 21kgs of gold have been recovered.
The workshop, which ends tomorrow, was organised by the Centre for Investigative Journalism Zimbabwe (CIJZ) whose founding director is multi-award award winning journalist Elias Mambo and the Zimbabwe Environmental Law of Zimbabwe (ZELA).CiJZ board chairperson is Beatrice Mtetwa.
Chief Sup Sakarombe said the bulk of the recovered gold was intercepted at the Beitbridge and Plumtree Border posts as culprits attempted to smuggle the mineral into South Africa and Botswana.
“Since January 2018 police have recovered 21kgs of gold, worth $960 521. 225 arrests were made during the period.
“The bulk of the recoveries are attributed to intelligence informed raids mainly at Beitbridge and Plumtree Border Posts.
“As you know the bulk of our gold is smuggled into South Africa and Botswana,” he said.
Chief Sup Sakarombe said despite successful raids and arrests by police, the majority of culprits nabbed for illegal possession of large quantities of gold have not been prosecuted.
He attributed this to loophole in the Gold Trade Act adding that the police were engaging the Attorney General’s office for possible amendment of the act.
“We have lost cases involving large quantities of gold. The cases are difficult to prosecute because the accused may deny ownership of the gold and another person with a licence can come and claim the gold, exonerating the suspect,” he said.
“The problem is that the Gold Trade Act does not say if one is mining in Shamva they should not be seen with their gold in Beitbridge. There’s a loophole in the act,” he said.
Added Chief Sup Sakarombe, “If you arrest the person in Zimbabwe, chances are they will walk free. We are in the process of engaging the office of the Attorney General for the act to be amended”.
Chief Sup Sakarombe also bemoaned the unavailability of a whistle blower fund to pay informers who provide police with intelligence of illegal dealings in minerals.
“There are no funds to pay informers. How do we get the intelligence? We have are handicapped in that regard.
“In South Africa informers are paid 10 percent of the total value of the contraband recovered. That explains why there are more interceptions in South Africa,” he said.
Chief Sup Sakarombe said the police minerals border control unit was doing everything in its power to curb leakages in minerals.-Sundaynews