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Sand poachers steal road rehabilitation sand

by Staff reporter
26 Oct 2021 at 05:39hrs | Views
THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has declared war on sand poachers in St Peter's on the outskirts of Bulawayo and yesterday council rangers deflated tyres of some of the suspects' vehicles in a bid to arrest them.

The sand poachers are also stealing sand earmarked for use in the ongoing road rehabilitation programme.

They are causing serious land degradation in the city and several lives have been lost due to pits they leave uncovered.

The council's rangers are engaged in running battles with the sand poachers who become violent as they resist arrest.
Rangers were yesterday forced to shoot tyres of some of the poachers' vehicles in order to arrest them.

A Chronicle news crew witnessed the arrest of two sand poachers in St Peter's.

The owner of a truck whose tyres had been deflated by rangers tried to negotiate with the rangers but they took him to council offices to pay a fine.

Council recently revealed that it was struggling to address the problem of sand poaching as it only has one car and five rangers instead of 74.

Bulawayo Ward 17 councillor Ms Sikhululekile Moyo said the sand poaching menace was increasing by the day in St Peter's and it was difficult to deal with.

"The biggest challenge is that poachers are residents and when we deploy rangers to go and arrest them, villagers defend their children involved in sand poaching and end up fighting the rangers. We have had cases when rangers have been forced to fire warning shots while under siege from violent villagers. What communities do not understand is that the rangers they are fighting are also Bulawayo residents," she said.

Clr Moyo said what the villagers should appreciate is that sand poaching also affects them as they lose livestock and their children could also fall into the pits.

She said some sand poachers had become a threat to some homesteads in St Peter's as they are digging close to the homes.

Clr Moyo said council had engaged several stakeholders including the police in a bid to stop sand poaching.
Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association Ward 17 chairperson Mr Mandlenkosi Gumunyu said sand poachers attack rangers with shovels.

"Sand poaching is a very serious problem that has affected a lot of homesteads in Robert Sinyoka and St Peter's villages. Some of the homesteads are seriously threatened by sand poachers who are digging close to the homesteads.

We had a meeting two weeks ago with council rangers and Environmental Management Agency officials and we are happy that some of them have been arrested," said Mr Gumunyu.

He also blamed sand poachers for stealing sand meant for road rehabilitation works.

"There were heaps of sand that were earmarked for road rehabilitation that had been placed along Khami Prison Road.

"But when prisoners arrived today to start  work, it was discovered that some of the sand had been stolen," he said.
Bulawayo provincial police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube said while he was not aware of the latest case, they were alive to the problems caused by sand poachers.

Source - The Chronicle
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