POLICE in Kitwe yesterday fought running battles with some chrome pickers who attempted to force their way into the slag dump commonly known as the Black Mountain.

The riot left a Zambeef shop damaged and a house allegedly burnt.

The confusion which had entered day three, turned ugly after the irate chrome pickers blocked the Kitwe-Ndola dual carriageway with stones and tyres, forcing the police to discharge teargas canisters as they scampered in different places.

Motorists had to be diverted to other routes resulting in congestion.

The chrome-pickers had been rioting since Tuesday this week in protest against the two hours given to them to operate at the Black Mountain which they feel is not enough.

And Copperbelt acting Commanding officer Tresphord Kasale said five people had been apprehended in connection with the riots.

He said the chrome pickers who had earlier been denied entry into the slag dump were directed to four sites which had been identified for them to be picking from but they refused and insisted that they wanted to operate from the mountain.

Kasale said despite several calls by the police for them to follow what had been laid down, they cooperate and opted to block the Kitwe-Ndola dual carriageway with stones and tyres.

He said police were forced to fire teargas canisters to disperse the unruly youths in order to maintain law and order resulting in the apprehension of five.

“The youths again rioted after they were denied entry into the black mountain because they had four sites identified for them to be picking their materials from, five people have since been apprehended,” said Kasale.

He said after being dispersed by the police, the youths went to Ndeke, Kandabwe and Wusakile township where they incited people to rise but quick action from police prevented the situation from escalating.

Kasale said the youths also broke windows for Zambeef in Wusakile but could not loot the place as police arrived on the scene immediately.

He reiterated that the police would not entertain lawlessness in the district and advised the youths to behave themselves.

Meanwhile, as at 11:00 hours, business at the black mountain was still at standstill as police officers in full riot gear sealed off the mountain while keeping vigil.

The registered cooperatives only started loading two hours later.

The youths have been engaging in riotous behaviour since Tuesday when government banned them from accessing the mountain to pick their materials after they protested against the two hours allocated to them.