BY SILAS NKALA
BULAWAYO City Council has arrested over 400 residents for violating environmental by-laws mostly in outlying areas such as Ncema and Pumula North, raking in over $93 000 through fines, it has emerged.
Director of Housing and Community Services, Dictor Khumalo recently reported that degradation in Greater Bulawayo and water catchment areas was rampant prompting council to fine violators heavily.
“During the routine patrols, 4 illegal gold panners were arrested and a total of 225 hand tools were confiscated during the skirmishes. This brought to date, a total number of 478 people arrested. The individuals arrested and the tools confiscated were handed to Esigodini police,” reads the latest council minutes.
“The operations were greatly hindered by transport and manpower shortages. A joint blitz of Bulawayo and Ncema rangers was carried out in Greater Bulawayo where one (1) truck was confiscated at Pumula North suburb. During the normal patrols 54 tickets were issued to the offenders and 45 had already been paid for and sum of $93 423 was realised and 9 tickets were still outstanding with a balance sum of $189 895.”
The minutes state that a total of 31 trucks had collected pit sand at the two designated sites and a sum of $106 361 was collected.
BCC has for some time been facing challenges in dealing with various environmental hazards caused by the stream bank cultivation, gold panning and fire wood poaching mostly in its outlying areas.
Recently massive deforestation was exposed at the Mazwi Reserves close to Khami Prisons where concerns were raised by the environmentalists that the officers and inmates at the Khami Prisons were responsible for the illegal activities.