A police officer stationed at Harare Central Police Station PISI section and three other men appeared in court yesterday on allegations of possessing 350 pieces of rhinoceros horn weighing 12,4kg valued at US$600 000.
Cleopas Tirishure Kacheya, Wang Yang, Jabulani Mthimkhulu and Weston Useya appeared before Harare Magistrate Mr Dennis Mangosi charged with unlawful possession of parts of a protected animal.
They were remanded in custody to February 6 and told only the High Court could grant bail for this sort of serious offence.
It is the State's case that in October last year, Kacheya and Useya went to Chipinge where they acquired a rhinoceros horn from Vosta Masasa, who had been given it by Johane Guzha, who was the hunter who killed the animal in Chipinge Safaris.
Kacheya and Useya then took the rhinoceros horn to Harare and disposed of it.
On Monday this week, detectives from CID minerals, fauna and flora unit in Harare got wind of the transaction and managed to apprehend Useya, who implicated Kacheya, Yang and Mthimkhulu.
It is said that detectives went to Mthimkhulu's home in Borrowdale where they arrested him. They recovered a pangolin scale from his pocket as is also a protected animal. This discovery earned Mthimkhulu an extra charge of unlawfully possessing the scale.
After being interviewed, Mthimkhulu revealed that Useya had brought the rhino horn to Harare, with Yang being the final buyer.
Yang was invited to Mthimkhulu's house and upon arrival he was searched and two pieces of small rhinoceros horn were found in his car. Detectives then escorted Yang to his Hillside home in Harare, where four plastics packets with rhinoceros horn pieces were found and recovered.
The packets contained 22, 86, 96 and 240 small pieces of horn. Another nine large chunks of horn were recovered.