Top prison officer nabbed over ivory, mbanje

A senior prison officer and two Harare men were on Friday arrested in Binga after they were found in possession of four elephant tusks and an unspecified quantity of mbanje (marijuana).

A fourth suspect fled the scene and is still at large.
Police Criminal Investigation Department co-ordinator for Matabeleland Region Assistant Commissioner Erasmus Makodza yesterday confirmed the arrest but did not disclose details of the incident.

“I can confirm the arrest, but that is all I can say to you now. Further investigations are still underway,” he said.

But police sources identified the senior prison officer as Assistant Commissioner Apinos Mudzamiri, in charge of administration at the Zimbabwe Prison Services (ZPS) Headquarters in Harare.

They said he was arrested after the vehicle he was travelling in, a Mahindra truck, got bogged down in the mud.

“There were police officers travelling to Binga doing patrols in Operation Nyanga Ye Ropa going on in Matabeleland North Province. Along the way, the vehicle the police officers were travelling in got stuck in the mud,” said the police sources.

“As they were making efforts to remove the vehicle from the mud, another maroon Mahindra approached and also got stuck in the mud. The police got curious about what the vehicle was carrying. A search was conducted, leading to the discovery of the tusks and mbanje and subsequently to Mudzamiri’s arrest.

“Two other civilians were arrested but another one escaped. Police have since impounded the Mahindra truck and another white vehicle that the four were using.”

The police sources said Mudzamiri and the two civilians were being held at police holding cells in Hwange and were expected to appear in court this week.

ZPS spokesperson Chief Prison Officer Priscilla Mthembu yesterday said she was unaware of her boss’s arrest.

“I can confirm that he is part of the ZPS, but at the present moment, he (Mudzamiri) is on leave. We are yet to receive any information about the arrest,” she said.

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