Rhino poachers get 21 years each

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Two Mozambicans arrested last month in Humani Ranch, Save Valley Conservancy, Chiredzi, and found in possession of a loaded rifle and 27 rounds of live ammunition have been sentenced to 21-years each for rhino poaching.

Masvingo magistrate Oliver Mudzongachiso last Friday sentenced Devi Gabriel Mutumani (37) and Nyabanga Solomon (36), both from Manica province, Mozambique, to seven years each for all three counts they were jointly facing.

The two were found guilty of contravening the Wildlife Act (Chapter 20:14), possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition.

This means that Mutumani and Nyabanga, who pleaded guilty to all three charges, will be 58 and 57 years old respectively when they complete their prison terms.

Prosecutor Mirirai Shumba told the court on August 29 at around 1600hrs, the two, who claimed to be mercenaries, invaded Humani Ranch in the Lowveld with the intention to hunt rhinoceros.

They were armed with an SKS semi-automatic rifle loaded with 10 rounds and 27 spare rounds of live ammunition.

Game rangers spotted their footprints and tracked them until their arrest the following morning.

In passing sentence, Mudzongachiso said their penalty had to be stiff to deter would-be poachers.

“You are mercenaries hired to make our valuable wildlife which is special and protected extinct. I have no hesitation at all in sending a message to would-be offenders that the courts will not deal with you lightly.

“I have to put you out of circulation for a long time,” ruled Mudzongachiso.