Illegal sand blasters in Harare South wetland between Mvurachena and Eyestone have vowed to continue with their business despite being fined or the urgent need to preserve wetlands, saying it is their only source of income.
In interview with Zimsentinel, one of the sand miners, who spoke on condition of anonymity said they will not quit their hustle even though they face the risk of being fined $30 000, arguing they make enough money in a day to pay such a fine.
“We have nothing to lose, since we are able to raise the fine within 24 hours,” he said.
The sand blasters said that the land they were blasting belonged to claiming being freedom fighters entitled them exploit the land.
“ We fought for this land and we cannot afford to part ways with it, any co-operative or land baron who tries to remove us from this place will be in for it, we will attack him, even EMA we are not afraid of it,” said the sand miner.
An armed struggle war veteran, who identified himself as comrade Tichapona, highlighted that the issue of land in Harare South has a hot issue for some time.
Tichapona said the wet land remains a State land, but it was being invaded by various players who claim to own the land and they are pegging illegal stands to honest citizens, stealing their money.
Provincial Environmental Management Agency (EMA) manager Robson Mavondo said, “Harare South is hurt, we have experienced a lot of problems when it comes to illegal sand mining, so far as a province, we have conducted over three blitz raids in the last two months, arresting over 30 sand transporters, it is very difficult to stop them because they are saying it is their only source of living.”
Invasion of wetlands is affecting the provision of water in the area and this has been worsened by the development of illegal structures and sand blasters, who are living in the open, posing a threat to the citizens living in that area.
According to Zimbabwe National Water Authority, destruction of wetlands has led to extreme fall in the water table in Harare.
By Caroline Nyamayaro