The Zimbabwe Republic Police’s Minerals Border Control Unit recovered 21kgs of gold worth nearly $1 million which was in the process of being smuggled out through the Beitbridge and Plumtree border posts since January this year.
This was revealed by Chief Superintendent Didymus Sakarombe during a Harare media workshop on the extractive industry Thursday.
“Since January 2018 police have recovered 21kgs of gold, worth $960 521 and 225 people arrested during the same period,” Sakarombe said.
“The bulk of the recoveries are attributed to intelligence informed raids mainly at Beitbridge and Plumtree Border Posts.
“As you know the bulk of our gold is smuggled into South Africa and Botswana.”
Despite the good efforts of the country’s law enforcement agency, Sakarombe said most of those arrested for the vice, Sakarombe said despite the good efforts of the police, most of those arrested have not been prosecuted because of the laxity of the Gold Trade Act amid signs of government reluctance to strengthen the law.
“We have lost cases involving large quantities of gold; the cases are difficult to prosecute because the accused may deny ownership of the gold and another person with a licence can come and claim the gold, exonerating the suspect,” he said.
“The problem is that the Gold Trade Act does not say if one is mining in Shamva, they should not be seen with their gold in Beitbridge, here’s a loophole in the Act.”
He added: “If you arrest the person in Zimbabwe, chances are they will walk free. We are in the process of engaging the office of the Attorney General for the Act to be amended.”
The senior police officers also said their efforts to end the vice were being hampered by the lack of money to reward whistle blowers.
“There are no funds to pay informers, how do we get the intelligence?
“In South Africa, informers are paid 10 percent of the total value of the contraband recovered. That explains why there are more interceptions in South Africa.”
The media workshop was organised by the Centre for Investigative Journalism Zimbabwe (CIJZ) in collaboration with the Zimbabwe Environment Law (ZELA).