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Sand poachers wreak havoc

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SAND poaching has become a menace in Bulawayo with the Environmental Management Agency (EMA)complaining that graves were being desecrated through the illegal activities.

BY MELODY CHIMHAU

The worst affected areas were Pumula, Robert Sinyoka, Methodist, Cowdray Park and Hyde Park high-density suburbs, resulting in serious land degradation that affects infrastructure and roads.

Bulawayo provincial EMA manager, Decent Ndlovu on Wednesday said sand poaching was a health hazard and warned that rangers were on massive patrols to arrest perpetrators.

“We have seen an increase in land degradation in Cowdray Park and Hyde Park Cemetery. The building industry is growing and so are the hazards of sand poaching,” Ndlovu said.

“Deep pits have been opened and left uncovered posing a serious danger to communities,” he added.

“Vegetation is being destroyed and pits are a danger to the society because in the rainy season, the pits fill up with water and become a health hazard.

“Game rangers are working tirelessly to catch perpetrators, but we need the society to be responsible and understand dangers of destroying the environment.”

Twelve graves at Hyde Park Cemetery were recently destroyed by illegal pit sand poachers.

Ndlovu said anyone intending to engage in sand transportation should have an appropriate licence, obtain the sand from designated sites or risk arrest if caught carrying an illegal commodity.

“We advise our fellow builders to get licences from local authorities, or individuals should come up with a detailed excavation and environmental rehabilitation plan for the site to prevent land degradation,” he added.

According to the EMA Act, no person should excavate, remove, possess or licence the removal of clay or sand deposit for commercial purposes without licences issued by the agency.

If caught an individual could pay up to $5 000 or a maximum sentence of up to 10 years.

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