Copperbelt Province Minister, Japhen Mwakalombe has condemned the riotous behaviour by Kankoyo youths who destroyed property while demanding that government gives them the dumpsite, popularly known as the black mountain at Mopani Copper Mine’s Mufulira mining site as a form of empowerment.
Speaking after he inspected the extent of the damage, Mr. Mwakalombe said he is disappointed with the youths of Kankoyo, who are taking issues into their own hands and abrogating the law instead of peacefully engaging the government on the matter.
He stated that normal procedures would have to be followed if the dumpsite was to be given to the youths, adding that there must be no form of intimidation or force from the young people.
“You can’t hold a bull by its horns in order to get what you want, the youths need to realize that they don’t need to abrogate the law for them to get what they want,” Mr. Mwakalombe warned.
He stated that the youths should listen to the Ministry of Mines which has the mandate to make decisions regarding mining sites.
He added that the Minister of Mines was still assessing the matter and would later come up with a decision on whether or not the demands of the young people were feasible.
Mr. Mwakalombe said government will not take acts of criminality lightly, adding that investigative wings will ensure that those inciting the youths to riot are brought to book.
“We have information that some people with political interests are the ones who have been inciting these riots so we will ensure we get to the bottom of this because this behaviour is pure criminality and unacceptable,” he said.
Mr. Mwakalombe said it was unacceptable for the youths to burn down a community school built for them by the mines and destroy property at Clinic Five all in the guise of wanting youth empowerment.
He said it was unfortunate that a life was lost during the riot when the youths could have simply engaged government in dialogue.
Mr. Mwakalombe however urged the youths to take advantage of the multi-sectoral youth empowerment programme which was launched by President Edger Lungu.
He said young people should come up with business proposals that would enable them get a share of the youth empowerment.
And Mopani Copper Mine Security Manager, Rueben Mbewe said safety is a major concern at the site as the rioting youths always target the acid plant, which if damaged, could halt copper production at the mine.
Mr. Mbewe said the youths also targeted 14 shaft, which supplies power to the mine, as well as 10 shaft where there are fans and ventilators which supply air to miners working underground.
He said tampering with the ventilators could lead to loss of life for miners.
He said the youths also targeted the sink hole where they are stealing cables thereby affecting the water pumps which can lead to the flooding of the mines hence causing a disaster.
Mr. Mbewe said miners are working in fear due to the recent developments.
He stated that there is need to have enough security to guard the site to avoid any possible loss of life and disaster.
Last week, a riot which claimed one life, erupted in Kankoyo following fights between Jerabos and police officers.
During the riots, youths burnt down a community school and damaged property at Mopani Copper Mines and Clinic Five.