ZIMBABWE – Two police officers from Gokwe, who together with two other accomplices were found in possession of a live pangolin they intended to sell to a local businessman, have each been jailed for an effective nine years.
Tinashe Mushaikwa (29) of ZRP Gokwe Central and Albert Gwere (23) based at ZRP Nembudziya had pleaded not guilty to illegal possession of a specially protected animal when they appeared before Gokwe magistrate Mr Collen Chiruma but were convicted.
The two were sentenced to 10 years each, one of which was suspended on condition of good behaviour.
Their accomplices, Gordon Chitima (49) of Village Nemanga under Chief Chireya and James Matsungo (42) from Chiweshe pleaded guilty and were also sentenced to nine years each in November.
In passing sentence, Mr Chiruma said that the two were wasting the court’s time by denying the charges.
“You wasted the court’s time by denying the charges of which the evidence was overwhelming making you guilty,” he said.
“You have been sentenced to 10 years each imprisonment with six months suspended on condition you do not commit a similar offence in the next five years and four months suspended on condition of good behaviour.
“Effectively you will serve nine years in prison.”
Prosecutor Mr Michael Mhene told the court that sometime in October, the four connived and hunted a pangolin which was strolling in Chemagora area.
Mr Mhene said the four agreed that Chitima and Matsungo should take care of the pangolin at Chitima’s homestead in Chemagora while the two police officers looked for a buyer in Gokwe town.
On October 25, police had a tip-off that the four were selling a live pangolin.
Mr Mhene told the court that the police Mineral and Border Control Unit together with members of Parks and Wildlife Authority Management and the Zimbabwe National Army made a follow up.
A detective Kaseke posed as a buyer and communicated with Gwere who told him to meet him at Sunset Business Centre in Gokwe.
Detective Kaseke hired a car and proceeded to Sunset where he met the two police officers who then led him to Chitima’s homestead in Chemagora about 40km from Gokwe.
On arrival, Kaseke signalled his colleagues after the four failed to produce a permit of keeping a specially protected animal.
The four were subsequently arrested.