The judge trying the case in which ‘galamsey queen’ Aishà Huang is being prosecuted for offences against the state has called for stiffer sanctions against persons caught in the act of illegal mining in the country.
In advocating such severe sanctions, he urged other members of the Judiciary to join the crusade in sanitising the ecology to protect river bodies and forest reserves in support of decent economic activity for the national benefit.
Samuel Bright, who again denied the suspect bail in the ongoing trial at an Accra Circuit Court, joined civil society actors in urging severe sanctions against galamsey operators during yesterday’s proceedings in Accra.
The Chinese national has pleaded not guilty to her suspected illegal mining activities.
Ruling on a bail application yesterday, the Judge indicated that the accused would therefore remain in police custody as investigations continue.
Ms. Huang and three others are accused of engaging in illegal mining and engaging in the sale of minerals without a licence. Fresh charges filed against her on September 16, 2022, are undertaking a mining operation without a licence, contrary to Section 99(2)(a) of the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006, Act 703 as amended by the Minerals and Mining (Amendment) Act 2019, Act 995.
She has also been charged with facilitating the participation of persons engaged in a mining operation, contrary to Section 99 (2)(a) & (3) of the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006, Act 703 as amended by the Minerals and Mining (Amendment) Act 2019, Act 995.
In addition, she is in court for illegal employment of foreign nationals contrary to Section 24 of the Immigration Act, 2000 (Act 573) and finally for entering Ghana while prohibited from re-entry, contrary to Section 20(4) of the Immigration Act, 2000, Act 573.
Owing to the seriousness of the offence, the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, was compelled to file new charges against the galamsey queen in respect of offences committed between 2015 and 2017.
The new charges were filed on Friday September 16, 2022.
The Chinese national was arraigned before the Criminal Division of the High Court, presided over by Justice Lydia Marfo, and hearing conducted virtually.
She later appeared before the Accra Circuit Court together with her three accomplices and were remanded into prison custody for two weeks.
Prosecutors got the Court to extend a warrant of arrest permitting them to hold her for at least two weeks while they carried out further investigations.
Threat to water production
How devastating the activities of illegal miners has been on water production, for instance, is reflected in a recent statement the Ghana Water Company Limited(GWCL) issued complaining that it currently uses ten times more chemicals refining water at most of its various water treatment plants before distributing to communities, due to the negative impact of illegal small-scale mining (galamsey).
According to the urban water distributing company, the current turbidity of water from most of its intake points is too high, thus requiring more chemicals to refine it.
In a chat with the media, the Public Relations Officer of the GWCL, Mr. Stanley Martey, warned that the company may even shut down its machines, if the situation persists.
“We are using ten times more of the chemicals required to refine the water before we pump them for distribution. When it becomes too much to bear, we will shut down our machines,” he had cautioned, lamenting that it is a serious issue that needed tackling to avert a likelihood of Ghana importing water very soon.