Illegal gold miners change modus operandi

Sibanda (with blonde dreadlocks) and Moyo
Sibanda (with blonde dreadlocks) and Moyo

FRANCISTOWN: Alleged illegal gold miners have now changed tact as they illicitly mine for gold in the Shashe area, a few kilometres from Francistown.

It is a well-known fact that illegal mining for gold in Botswana is mainly concentrated in the disused gold shafts in Francistown and the proximity of Matsiloje village.

However, the alleged illegal miners or Zama Zamas, as they are referred to in South Africa, have now shifted their illicit activities to another place rich in gold around Shashe, an old mining area on the country's gold belt.

Just like the Francistown and Matsiloje goldfields, the Shashe area was mined following the earliest gold rush.

The illegal miners have now changed their strategy and started mining for gold in the Shashe area since the police and army have now intensified patrols, which are geared towards arresting illegal gold miners around Matsiloje.

When Codenia Sibanda, Khubekani Moyo and Kabelo Mosweu appeared for mention before Magistrate Tshepo Magetse yesterday, police Sergeant Amos Mpanda told the court that investigations in the matter are ongoing adding that some exhibits have been sent to the laboratory for analysis.

“We, therefore, make an application that Sibanda and Moyo be further remanded in custody since they are illegal immigrants,” Mpanda said.

In response to what Mpanda said, Sibanda pleaded with the court to grant him bail while Moyo pleaded with the court to push the police to speed up investigations.

Their co-accused Mosweu, who is on bail, pleaded with the prosecution to return his national identity card (Omang) saying that ever since the police took it from him, he is unable to apply for government programmes.

At the end of the mention, Magetse denied Sibanda and Moyo bail since they are illegal immigrants.

He also implored the police to return Mosweu’s Omang. The matter has been set for mention on October 26.

Meanwhile more on the gold fever, the police have decided to withdraw charges against another alleged illegal gold miner, Abel Nyoni, who was caught around the Shashe area mining gold. Due to insufficient evidence, the police withdrew the case.

Said Mpanda: “We shall, however, proceed with the charge of illegal entry into Botswana that the accused is facing. May the charge be read to the accused and his plea taken.”

After charges were read to Nyoni, he readily admitted to the offence to which Mpanda said they were ready with the facts.

Magistrate Magetse ordered the case to continue today for facts reading.

Magetse added: “The charge of illegal prospecting for gold against the accused is withdrawn without liberty to reinstate.”

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