By Habakkuk Trust
The current clampdown on the mining sector in Insiza District has reduced the number of mines bringing in gold for milling at processing sites.
Last week, Habakkuk Trust followed up on reports of a clampdown on artisanal and small scale miners from some of its Insiza Community Advocacy Team members. Reports obtained from locals indicated gross human rights abuses in the manner in which offenders were arrested which includes alleged beatings at the hands of the police support unit and subjection to inhuman conditions in police cells.
Stamp mill owners in the District have bemoaned the arbitrary raids that have resulted in the temporary closure of a significant number of mines. The clampdown has affected daily operations in mines thus resulting in reduced gold output.
The local economy has not been spared from the exercise which began about a week ago. Gold mining forms the economic base and supports livelihoods in Insiza and surrounding Districts.
Mine owners are puzzled over the raids which have been mostly conducted at nightfall when workers are in their living quarters.
“Our workers are woken up at 1am and arrested for not wearing protective gear, one wonders how they are expected to wear helmets whilst asleep in their compounds,” a local Mine manager lamented.
The raids which have been heavy-handed have left miners confused as to whether the exercise is Covid-19 related or its part of routine safety compliance measures. The operation reportedly continued yesterday where over 180 artisanal miners were reportedly picked up and some released upon payment of fines.
Community members have raised fears of an upsurge in crime as youth who are the ones that are mainly involved in mining activities have since lost jobs.