Bots rangers: Zim cans appeal

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The State has withdrawn its appeal lodged at the High Court contesting a ruling by a Hwange magistrate to acquit three Botswana game rangers on the charges of smuggling and illegal possession of fire arms.

Magistrate Peter Madiba earlier this maonth ruled that Kiabetswe Mhiko, Gaetsho Simane, and Petego Gaosengwe were guilty of violating Zimbabwe’s Immigration Act and fined them $100 each for the offence.

The magistrate, however, acquitted the trio on two charges of smuggling and illegal possession of firearms. At the time the state indicated it wanted to appeal against the acquittals.

“We have withdrawn the appeal from the High Court, because we have seen that they are already out of the country and we will not be able to hear their side of the story as they have left the country,” said State Chief Law Officer Chris Mutangadura.

In court papers the rangers admitted they had entered Zimbabwe illegally by mistake.

They said they were pursuing lions that had killed livestock in a village on the Botswana side of the border.

As a result of its intended appeal the State held onto a vehicle, firearms and ammunition belonging to the Botswana game rangers.

“They have since been given back their car and firearms,” said Mutangadura.

The arrest and prolonged detention of the rangers created a diplomatic row Botswana and Zimbabwe.