POLICE have expressed concern over the surge in cases of gold smuggling especially at Beitbridge Border Post where some transport operators are reportedly stashing large sums of gold inside fuel tankers to evade arrest.
Addressing legislators attending a capacity-building workshop in Kadoma last week, Zimbabwe Republic Police’s Chief Superintendent Oskah Mugomeri (Minerals Unit) disclosed that a lot of smuggling of gold occurred at the border with South Africa.
“We had several cases of gold smuggling along the South African border, and those cases that have been identified may be fewer than those that have not been identified,” he said.
“Some of the gold is smuggled inside fuel tankers – they can go to the extent of cutting a fuel tanker to put the gold and replace it with a new tanker after smuggling.”
Mugomeri indicated some of the lenient sentences imposed on smugglers fuelled the crime.
His colleague Chief Superintendent Tichafanana Sithole (Law Division Unit) said police had adopted a soft stance on gold panners in a move meant to encourage them to regularise their operations.
“As police, we have not stopped operations to check activities of gold panners (artisanal miners), but we have suspended aggressive operations against them and have encouraged them to form syndicates in order to be able to raise money to pay fees to formalise and register their operations,” Sithole said.
“We are also inundated with calls from people involved in land disputes where gold panners encroach on farming land and we advise them to seek recourse with the courts.”