Police in Kitwe yesterday fought running battles with small scale illegal miner’s known as jerabos in Wusakile who ran amok in protest of the closure of the sink hole near Mopani Copper Mines’ South Ore Body shaft.

The illegal miners rioted, breaking property and smashing vehicles along the Mindola road.

Classes at Kalela Primary School were immediately suspended and pupils ordered to leave the school.

A check found armed police officers patrolling the area and removing burning tyres and shrubs used to block Mindola road.

Two vehicles, a truck belonging to Mine Workers Union of Zambia 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, mostly youths, who managed to steal construction material; mainly steel bars among others.

By press time, police in full riot gear, including the Anti-robbery squad, were deployed to Wusakile and Chamboli and to keep vigil although the situation remained tense.

Mopani Copper Mines Public Relations Manager Nebert Mulenga said Mopani had secured the sinkhole near the South Ore Body (SOB) in Kitwe as a safety precaution in line with mine safety regulations.

He said the sinkhole was a caving area within Mopani Copper Mines Plc’s mining rights area adding that the move was aimed at curtailing all illegal mining activities.