Sand poachers are causing havoc in Mashonaland Central Province amid serious concerns of land degradation and danger to human life.
Investigations made by Zim Morning Post established that some brick moulding kingpins sent their runners to poach sand but the illegal activity has resulted in the creation of dangerous pits particularly near Gweshe Growth point in Chiweshe.
Environmental Management Services publicity manager Steady Kangata said those who engage in sand extraction and brick moulding must do so after the provision of a licence or directive of traditional leaders.
“We are aware of land degradation which is being caused by massive sand poaching in Mashonaland Central but those who engage in these activities must do so under the directive of a licence or traditional leaders,” said Kangata.
University of Zimbabwe Geology Doctor Mapongwe said overgrazing, massive land digging and inter-clan movements play a central role in the destruction of land in Mashonaland Central Province.
“Overgrazing and massive land digging is resulting in the depletion of land. The other thing which is supposed to take note of is that the land reform programme in 2000 resulted in the inter-clan movements whereby other people from other clans occupied certain territories and the result was the abuse of land simply because they did not originally belong there,” said Mapongwe.
The massive sand poaching is caused by men and women who try to earn a living in a country that has ceased to open up for jobs.
Therefore, the environment has suffered from the economic crisis just like human beings.
Malvin Banda one of the sand poachers said the economic crisis has led them to these activities otherwise they do not enjoy sand poaching.
“We don’t enjoy sand poaching, neither is it a nice job. We are here and we will always be here in so far as this country offers us no jobs. We want to take care of our families and this is where we get money by selling the send, bricks to those who build, otherwise our families will starve,” said Banda.
Meanwhile, two poachers escaped death by a whisker while carrying out the illegal activities.
Bothwell Foya, one of the survivors, condemned government for failing to provide jobs to avert sand poaching.
“The only way to say ‘no’ to land degradation is to create jobs for those responsible, which is being failed by the government,” said Foya.