Zimbabwe: Panners Destroy 54 Graves in Search of Gold
GOLD panners in Shamva have desecrated and destroyed 54 graves after discovering a gold belt that cuts through a cemetery.
The cemetery is located in Moyo Village under Chief Negomo, some six kilometres from the Shamva-Bindura Road.The shocking revelation was made last weekend when some villagers who had come to bury their relatives discovered mineshafts within the cemetery.The matter was reported to both the chief and police, who have since set up mobile police stations within the village to investigate the issue.Assistant Inspector Frank Manyika, who is leading the team of police officers manning the village, confirmed the incident."About 54 graves were tampered with and destroyed at a cemetery in Moyo Village. We have since set up mobile police stations in this village. No arrests have been made so far since the police moved in."Although the setting up of the mobile stations is also in line with the current anti-gold panning campaign, we are aiming to curb further destruction of the graves," he said.Village headman Mr Wengion Kanengoni, who confessed to be a gold panner, condemned the action by his fellow panners saying the graves would have to be rebuilt."It is surprising to learn that 54 graves have already been dug up by the same villagers whose relatives are laid at this cemetery."Some of the graves have been totally opened up exposing human remains that we have since reburied."I reported the matter to Chief Negomo and we are planning to rebuild all the graves that were badly destroyed," said Mr Kanengoni.Mr Svinurai Maseta, who lives in the same village, said some human remains were left exposed and villagers had to fill the shaft to cover them."Human skulls were also seen when these shafts were discovered and villagers had to fill up the shafts in order to rebury the remains," he said.Some villagers also condemned the destruction of the cemetery saying it was clear testimony some people were losing their morals and cultural values for the love of money.Since November 21 last year, over 19 000 people have been arrested in various police crackdowns on illegal gold panning.However, despite the current nationwide blitz on gold panning and smuggling of precious metals codenamed "Chikorokoza Chapera/Isitsheketsha Sesiphelile" that is being conducted by the police in conjunction with the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, illegal mining activities continue in areas like Shamva, Chiweshe and along the Mazowe River.