Zim rangers in leg irons

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The director-general of the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, Vitalis Chadenga, on Tuesday said the authority would soon appeal for the intervention of Botswana President Seretse Ian Khama to facilitate the release of four Zimbabwean rangers arrested in that country early last month.

Chadenga said the four rangers, three from the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and one from the Forestry Commission, were unfairly incarcerated while performing their routine anti-poaching work and were being kept under inhuman conditions at a Botswana Prison.

“Regrettably we have been told that these four are now in leg irons in prison,” said Chadenga.
“They will appear before a Botswana court in Kasane tomorrow (Wednesday) and we are going to attend the court proceedings in solidarity and try to appeal to Khama’s conscience so that he can intervene.

“It is a sad issue and we have engaged lawyers based in Francistown, Ferusa and Company, to represent the four in Kasane,” he said.

Chadenga said the arrest was a setback to the joint anti-poaching programmes by the two countries and the Sadc region.

“If people are booked up for flimsy reasons, it defeats the whole purpose of conservation,” said Chadenga.

“The four rangers were arrested while officially doing their routine anti-poaching work in Matabeleland North last month. They were following human spoor and that is how we normally work with our Botswana counterparts. We believe they were lured into Botswana, only to be pounced upon by the Botswana Defence Forces,” he said.

Chadenga said this was unfortunate because animals like elephants did not recognise any boundaries and game rangers would follow up on known incursions.