Home » Legal and Judicial Affairs » Police Seek Nod to Retain Part of Forfeited Minerals

Police could rake in millions of United States dollars from minerals confiscated from illegal dealers if their request to retain part of the loot is approved by Government. The force is already retaining money from motorists’ fines. Appearing before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy in Harare yesterday, Senior Assistant Commissioner Silence Pondo and officials from the Border Control and Minerals Unit said they had inadequate resources to curb minerals pilferage. Gutu Central MP Cde Lovemore Matuke (Zanu-PF) chairs the committee.

Snr Assist Comm Pondo said, “We have suggested solutions . . . first funding from the national fiscus, secondly, funding from minerals royalties . . . we are saying miners are submitting certain percentage to the Government. We can be funded from that money.

“The last one, retention of minerals recovered through arrests. We are suggesting that if we arrest an illegal gold dealer with gold, let’s be allowed to retain a certain percentage so that we will be able to go back to the field. That is if the two suggestions above are not feasible.”

But legislators expressed shock when Snr Assist Comm Pondo told them that they had not arrested a single police officer for dishonesty in dealing with confiscated minerals.

Zanu-PF legislator for Mberengwa North Cde Tafanana Zhou and his MDC-T counterpart for Musikavanhu, Mr Prosper Mutseyami, asked what mechanisms the force had to guard against officers replacing gold or diamonds with brass or quartz ,respectively, before taking the exhibit to courts.

Mr Mutseyami said there were indications that some police officers swapped these minerals and converted the genuine resources to their personal use.

Cde Zhou said there were reports that arresting police officers used public transport to deliver confiscated gold to the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, thereby compromising security.

Snr Assist Comm Pondo said there was transparency in handling of confiscated minerals as they were weighed in the presence of suspects.

MPs also asked if any police officer had been arrested for personalising confiscated minerals since the Unit came into force, to which Snr Assist Comm Pondo said none.

Legislators accused the force of targeting civilian illegal minerals dealers but did nothing to bring the police officers to book for the same crimes.

Bindura South MP Cde Remigious Matangira (Zanu-PF) asked what mechanisms police had to curb minerals leakages.

Zanu-PF legislator for Mashonaland East Cde Marbel Nkatazo said there was a need for the police force to conduct lifestyle audits of all officers in the Border Control and Minerals Unit.

MPs also wanted to know how many illegal dealers had been arrested and the quantities of gold confiscated against what was delivered to the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development and Fidelity Printers for processing.

Cde Matuke said Fidelity Printers told the same committee that the police were reluctant to forfeit gold confiscated from illegal dealers. However, Snr Assist Comm Pondo said the unit had always surrendered confiscated gold to the Mines Ministry.

Source : The Herald