Zimbabwe: Harare - Polish Journalist Helps Arrest Ivory Dealers, Grace Mugabe Mentioned

TWO suspected ivory poaching ring leaders have been arrested for contravening the Parks and Wildlife Act in a case where former First Lady Grace Mugabe's name was mentioned.

Fanken Madzinga, 48, a registered dealer and manufacturer of ivory along with his driver Tafadzwa Pamire appeared Monday before Harare magistrate, Josephine Sande.

They are denying the allegations and were remanded out of custody to May 21 for trial.

Court heard that Madzinga and Pamire were arrested after the police received a tip off indicating they were part of ivory poaching syndicate.

The informer is a photo journalist from Poland who masqueraded a s a buyer before nailing the two.

There are also reports that the two disclosed that former First Lady, Grace Mugabe was part of the syndicate after they were convinced the informer would buy lots of ivory from them.

This was however not disclosed in court papers.

According to the papers, the tip off was received on February 14 this year.

Court heard the informer told the police that he had managed to entice the two to sell him the ivory after posing as a potential buyer.

He told the police that he would meet the suspects in Harare city centre to complete the transaction.

A team of detectives was then put together and a trap set.

It is alleged that the Polish journalist met the two at a hotel in the capital as per arrangement.

The informant left the hotel with the suspects but in separate vehicles.

Court heard they drove to Highfields and left the 'buyer' at a certain before continuing to an undisclosed destination.

All the time the police were trailing suspects, it is alleged.

Prosecutors allege the two suspects returned later and the party headed for the Zimbabwe Grounds.

Upon arrival the suspects promptly started transferring unmarked elephant tusks from their Toyota Hiace vehicle to the informant's car.

Police detectives then arrived at the scene and arrested the duo.

According to court papers, the ivory was valued at $22 797.

Francesca Mukumbiri appeared for the State.

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