3 November 2017

Zimbabwe: $3 Million Rhino Horn Theft - Zimparks Bosses Seek Acquittal

Photo: Mark Carwardine/WWF
A southern white rhinoceros grazes (file photo).

A former Parks and Wildlife director has applied for acquittal in a case where he is charged with concealing an audit report after some 53 rhino horns worth about $3million went missing.

Through his lawyer Lovemore Madhuku, Edson Chidziva argued that he was once arrested over a missing rhino horn only to be acquitted by the courts.

The lawyer said prosecutors were now charging his client with the same offence and only changed the number of horns missing to 53.

According to the attorney, this unconstitutional.

"Circumstances and dates remains the same, so the charge has not changed," said Madhuku.

"My client was once acquitted of the same charge back in 2015' so we give notice to the State that we will submit our written application with regards to this issue."

Chidziya is charged together with subordinates Pedgewell Mazoyo, Gift Kuwora, who has also sought acquittal, as well as and former security officer Munyaradzi Nhira.

The former parks boss faces criminal abuse of office charges while his alleged accomplices were charged with theft of trust property.

Prosecutor George Manokore indicated that between 2012 and May 2013 Chidziva was appointed substantive director general and that his role was to report to the board and oversee the smooth running of the authority.

Court heard that during this time, Chidziva caused a breach of security procedures after he allegedly made his accomplices swap keys to Zimparks' strong room where the ivory was being kept.

According to the prosecution, it was after this "illegal arrangement, that the horns disappeared from the strong room.

Chidziva failed to report this to the board and also concealed an audit report which exposed the theft of the rhino horns.

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