A MAN believed to have supplied poachers with the deadly cyanide which has killed nearly 100 elephants and devastated the ecological system at Hwange National Park has appeared in court.
Prosecutors say between October and November last year, Elvis Ncube, 30, of Hillside in Harare, acquired three tonnes of sodium cyanide and stored it at his place of residence, a Bulawayo court heard.
He allegedly sold the chemical to different unnamed individuals including the poaching syndicate, who went on to mix it with salt and poison water sources at Hwange National Park.
Ncube, who is charged with storing classified hazardous substances at unlicensed premises, was remanded to October 16 on US$100 bail by magistrate Gladmore Mushove.
Meanwhile, Justice Martin Makonese of the Bulawayo High Court on Friday threw out a bail appeal by three men charged over the elephant poisoning.
Farai Chitsa, 34, a Bulawayo businessman and two brothers Sipho, 54, and Misheck Mafu, 46, will stand trial on October 24 for delivering or offering toxic substances and illegal posession of ivory.
Trial magistrates in Hwange heard how Chitsa paid the two brothers US$900 to poison water sources with salt laced with cyanide, which has resulted in the death of 95 jumbos.
On August 27 this year, game rangers at Hwange National Park got a tip-off that there were poachers in the game park and a team was dispatched to investigate.
The court was told that the team picked up footprints of the suspected poachers on August 29 and tracked them to Sipho's homestead. He allegedly admitted to killing five elephants and led the police to where he had hidden the tusks.
Sipho implicated his brother, Misheck, who upon arrest the following day, implicated Chitsa.
The court was told that investigators told Misheck to phone Chitsa, who was in Bulawayo on the pretext that he wanted to sell him some tusks, and Chitsa drove from Bulawayo to Pelandaba in Tsholotsho where he was ambushed and arrested by rangers.
Clever Khumalo, 44, another member of the syndicate, recently appeared in court charged separately with Sipho Mafu on similar charges.
The two were remanded in custody to Tuesday this week on the particular case.
Three other poachers, Robert Maposa, 42, Thabani Zondo, 24, and Dedani Tshuma, 25, were recently jailed for 16 years each for illegal possession of ivory and charges related to cyanide poisoning.
The three men must pay US$600,000 restitution to the wildlife sanctuary, while Tshuma was also ordered to pay a further US$200,000 by December 31 this year.