A CHITUNGWIZA man, Frank Mutanha, has been slapped with a nine-year jail term for illegal possession of a pangolin, one of the country’s endangered animal species.
The offence carries a nine-year mandatory jail term.
Mutanha (33) of Zengeza 3 was convicted on his own plea when he appeared before Harare magistrate Rekina Dzikiti.
Mutanha was jointly charged with Richard Mabhiza (36), who pleaded not guilty to the charge and was remanded to next Wednesday for trial.
In his mitigation while submitting special circumstances in his case, Mutanha told the court that he picked up the pangolin at his rural home in Nyanga and was arrested while mulling to hand it over to the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks).
Mutanha said when he contacted Zimparks officials, they set him up and offered to pay $10 000 for the animal.
“Unbeknown to me, one of the Parks and Wildlife officials set a trap for my arrest,” he said.
Dzikiti, however, dismissed Mutanha’s submissions saying he was never trapped.
“There are no special circumstances and the trap was just ordinary as Mutanha wanted to sell the pangolin to a wrong person,” the magistrate ruled.
State representative Francesca Mukumbiri told the court that police pounced on Mutanha and arrested him on August 17 this year at Zindoga Business Centre in Waterfalls, Harare, following a tip-off.
The court heard that at the material time, Mutanha was hiding the pangolin in a white sack while looking for a buyer.
The animal weighed 15,2kg and had a street value of $5 000.