14 October 2013

Zimbabwe: No Transport to Take Jumbo Killers to Court

THE trial of three poachers accused of using cyanide to poison to death dozens of elephants at Hwange National Park could not start on Monday as the prisons department failed to transport them to Hwange Regional Court.

Court officials in Hwange said Bulawayo businessman Farai Chitsa, 34, and brothers Sipho Mafu, 54, and Misheck Mafu, 46, were still remanded at Khami Remand Prison and had not been transferred to Hwange for trial.

Dumisani Dube of Cheda and Partners who is representing the trio, is expected to make an application for the case to be transferred to Bulawayo.

The three men were arrested in August when game rangers visited Tsholotsho to investigate poaching activities in the area as it emerged more than 80 elephants had died from cyanide poisoning

Seven members of a suspected poaching syndicate have since been arrested and three of them - Robert Maposa, 42, Thabani Zondo, 24, and Dedani Tshuma, 25, - were recently sentenced to 16 years in prison each.

Maposa and Zondo were further ordered to pay $600 000 restitution to the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority by 31 December 2013 while Tshuma must pay $200 000 restitution by the same date.

Another member of the syndicate, Clever Khumalo, 44, who recently appeared in court for delivering or offering toxic substances and illegally possessing ivory in connivance with Sipho, told the court that they had been running the syndicate for the past five years.

A manager at a company based in Harare, Elvis Ncube, has also appeared in court for allegedly supplying sodium cyanide to the poaching syndicate.

Four detectives from Harare were also last week denied bail for demanding $10,000 from the syndicate.

Meanwhile, it has also emerged that an anti-poaching team deployed at the vast wildlife park recently recovered eight more carcasses of elephants killed by poisoning by poaching syndicates, bringing to 103 the number of elephants that have died so far.

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