By Raphael Mulenga
Suspected illegal miners today ran amok rioting in Kitwe’s Wusakile Township following the closure of a sinkhole near the South Ore Body (SOB) shaft by Mopani Copper Mines.
A check by The Independent Observer this morning found the rioters burning tyres, shrubs and had blocked Mindola Road while classes at Kalela Primary School were immediately suspended.
Two vehicles, a truck belonging to Mineworkers Union of Zambia (MUZ) milling which was distributing mealie meal and a Ford Ranger belonging to a private company had the windows smashed as the rioters attempted to loot.
The wall fence at Mopani’s South Ore Body Shaft was broken down by the rioters who were mostly youths who managed to steal construction material mainly steel bars among others.
Meanwhile, Police in full riot gear including the Anti-robbery squad have been deployed to Wusakile and Chamboli and currently keeping vigil of the situation though the situation still remains tense.
And Copper Mines Public Relations Manager Nebert Mulenga said the mine has secured the sinkhole near the South Ore Body (SOB) in Kitwe as a safety precaution in line with mine safety regulations.
Mr Mulenga said the sinkhole is a curving area within Mopani Copper Mines Plc’s mining rights area, the move he said is aimed at curtailing all illegal mining activities.
Meanwhile, Small Scale Miners Association of Zambia Spokesperson Sam Mpembwe says the closing of the sinkhole Mopani Copper Mines at South Ore Body Shaft will have a huge impact on the lives of youths who earned a living from it.
Mr Mpembwe said the mining firm should have not closed the sinkhole because it is a source of living for the majority unemployed youths in Wusakile.
He is of the idea that before Mopani decided to close the sinkhole, the association should have informed so that a way forward is discussed aimed at helping the youths as opposed to leaving them with nothing to sustain their lives.
Meanwhile, Mr Mpembwe has observed the need for Mopani to consider giving the youths some of the slug dump adding that some slug dumps are currently lying idle with no activity taking place.
Mr Mpembwe was reacting to the riots that are currently going on where youths are demanding that the sinkhole is handed back to the youths.