Sneaking into the country to search for gold in the hope of making a quick buck, five Zimbabwean men have instead dug themselves into a whole lot of trouble.
The foreign fortune-hunters: Msix Moyo, 42, Phumulani Moyo, 27, Peter Moyo, 23, Attiwel Nldovu, 23, and Ishmael Moyo, 17, were allegedly caught hard at work at Matsiloje’s abandoned mining pits.
They were reportedly busted by patrolling Botswana Defence Force (BDF) officials last Monday (15 November), the very same day they border-hopped into Botswana.
The soldiers then alerted the cops, with the boys in blue arriving to catch three deep inside the pits and two outside. The suspects had apparently already filled two bags with stones.
This Tuesday, eight days after their arrest, the quintet appeared before Francistown Magistrates Court charged with unlawful possession of suspected minerals and entering the country illegally.
Wearing the same clothes they were arrested in, clothes which were soiled with dirt and sweat, the five men looked exhausted, dreams of gold long since replaced with nightmares of prison. One of the accused, Phumulani walked barefoot, ruefully telling court his shoes had been stolen.
Securing the suspects remand, the Investigating Officer, Ischwala Jotia noted they were in the country illegally and thus an obvious flight risk.
“If they flee back [to Zim] it will be hard to locate them. They allegedly came to pick whatever they wanted and their intention was to go back,” insisted Jotia, adding the stones have been sent to the lab for analysis but the results are not yet out.
The Prosecutor, Sesafelelng Dijeng, also pointed out that because the second accused, Ishmael, is only 17, he cannot be tried with adults.
“We will have to sit down and see what to do about him,” she added.
All five suspects were then remanded in custody and are due back in court on 13 December.
Meanwhile, Matsiloje Assistant Superintendent, James Moikothai told The Voice the cops have noticed a rise in illegal mining in the area.
“People from the Department of Mines once filled those pits with soil only to later realise that some of the pits are still open. These are the pits that the illegal miners are digging in for gold. We are not only worried that they are digging for gold but the pits themselves are dangerous as one may get trapped under,” warned Moikothai, who urged the public to contact the police if they notice any suspicious activity at the old mines.