– Yes, we have arrested a few, some have been fired and further investigations are being done, a top ZimParks official has revealed.
HARARE, Zimbabwe – Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management (ZimParks) has arrested some of its rangers while others have been fired as they had been caught in illegal mining activities, a top official said.
10 rangers including the Doma Safari Area Manager, have so far been arrested and some have been fired, but names have been withheld as their disciplinary hearings are yet to be finalised.
While speaking to ConserveZim on the sidelines of the Carbon Credit Framework stakeholder meeting, last Monday, Director General of ZimParks, Fulton Mangwanya, admitted.
“Yes, we have arrested a few, some have been fired and further investigations are being done.
We have had reports of such involvement in the Mid-Zambezi around Karoi but can’t reveal more details as we are still holding internal processes.”
“We need your help as the media to alert ZimParks of such activities within our national parks and I can assure you that we are firing anyone found guilty,” the ZimParks Director General told ConserveZim.
For the 10 arrested so far Mangwanya referred this journalist to the Regional Director for Mid Zambezi, Felix Chimeramonbe.
– Mid-Zambezi arrests
According to Chimeramonbe, at least 10 rangers have so far been arrested for their involvement in the illegal mining in the national parks especially in the Doma area.
“We have dismissed the lady Area Manager for Doma Safari area as she was found guilty of allowing some groups of miners to work in her area of jurisdiction,” he revealed.
The Doma Area Manager is alleged to have been asked to write a report detailing what was happening in her area.
In her report she lied that the mining activities were taking place outside her jurisdiction.
“We only discovered after our investigation team followed up and discovered she had lied and that she was in fact running a mining syndicate in the Doma Safari area,” Chimeramonbe said.
According to Chimeramonbe this was followed by the arrest of three more rangers in mid 2022.
“We saw that the illegal mining was becoming rampant in that Doma area and decided to guard the whole place, unfortunately three rangers connived, received bribes and allowed illegal miners in the parks area.
These three were convicted and dismissed,” he added.
Three more were arrested in November and another three in December for the same offence in the Doma Safari area.
In March this year it is alleged 28 illegal miners were arrested inside the Chewore area near Hurungwe, again rangers were allegedly involved.
“We clandestinely sent a team of investigators there and found 28 people mining inside our parks area and we arrested all of them.
We have had problems in this area for close to 10 years now and were also witnessing game being killed for meat by these illegal miners,” the Mid Zambezi Regional Manager revealed.
– Modus Operandi
Investigations in Nyamakate area by this journalist have revealed that there are syndicates that involve ZimParks rangers, that are either being bribed to allow illegal mining to take place or lead the syndicates.
The illegal miners say there are about three old mine pits in the area that they are targeting.
Some time in November it was revealed that teams of up to 10 people pay US$ 20 – US$ 50 per person to the rangers on duty to gain access to the pits.
“We come in teams, park our vehicles in the villages nearby, then go in after receiving a signal that our rangers are now on duty.
We would have paid in advance through our local agents who speak to the rangers on our behalf. These rangers allow us a maximum of a week inside the park, up to when they are ending their shift,” an illegal miner revealed.
According to him there are several places where mining is taking place, the Shamrock, the Dande side and the Chief Chisungo side.
Mahwau and Mayamba areas are under Chief Chundu and again the same tactic is being used to gain access into the parks area.
“There is a shortage of food when we are inside and we end up killing small game for food, we use very bright torches to confuse the animals and hit them with iron bars as using firearms alert other rangers who are not part of our syndicate,” he added.