TWO suspects believed to be part of a gang that allegedly killed a policeman last Saturday and seriously injured his colleague at Good Hope Mine in Battlefields have been arrested.
Police say they will now not hesitate to shoot anyone who attempts to disarm officers on duty.
The arrest comes as 17 gold panners, including one person who is on police’s most wanted list, were arrested in Kadoma yesterday.
Also, a man drowned in a river in Battlefields yesterday and police suspect that he could have been fleeing arrest.
In Mt Darwin, police on Monday arrested eight men and recovered four machetes and four Okapi knives stashed in the boot of a Toyota Wish they were travelling in.
The group is suspected to have been behind a spate of murder and robbery cases in Mashonaland Central Province. The 17 suspects arrested in Kadoma are reported to be members of the gang known as “Team Barca”, formerly led by Taurai Mutandwa who was shot dead during the David Whitehead gold rush in Chegutu.
The recent killing and assault on police officers is suspected to be an act of revenge.
In a statement yesterday, Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga confirmed the arrest of the two suspected killers and said efforts were underway to arrest the outstanding suspects.
The police chief has since sent a condolence message to the family of Constable Wonder Hokoyo.
“May I take this opportunity to reiterate that the Zimbabwe Republic Police will not tolerate acts of violence by artisanal miners in any part of the country. Anyone who therefore decides to disregard the laws of the land and cause anarchy will be dealt with severely in terms of the country’s laws. The police will work flat out to account for perpetrators of violence and machete wielding gangs from mining sites”.
Comm-Gen Matanga warned members of the public against attacking police officers performing their duties.
“Meanwhile, all those engaged in illegal mining activities should stop doing so and ensure that before they mine, they obtain the relevant licence or permit to do so in terms of the laws of this country. Any deviation from this will result in such miners being arrested.
“No one should interfere with or attack police officers who are maintaining law and order at mining sites. Anyone who decides or attempts to disarm police officers on duty risks being shot. The Zimbabwe Republic Police is also working together with other stakeholders to ensure that incidences of gold rush in several parts of the country are swiftly dealt with,” he said.
He said the public should report any acts of lawlessness and violence. Comm-Gen Matanga said regulatory authorities will be issuing out prohibition orders barring the carrying of machetes and other weapons such as knives, catapults, iron bars and knobkerries, making it an offence to be found with such weapons.
“My office will ensure that police deployments in mining areas are influenced by the need to protect and preserve life and property as outlined in Section 219 of the Constitution. My office will therefore not stand by and allow unruly elements to attack police officers.
There has been a heavy police presence at Good Hope Mine in Battlefields since the hacking to death of Cst Hokoyo. When The Herald visited the mine yesterday, about 30 members of the ZRP Support Unit and the District Reaction Group (DRG) were at the scene.