A HARARE provincial magistrate last week slapped two Harare men — Noel Holman (55) and Tendai Musatyira (25) — with mandatory nine-year jail terms each after convicting them of possessing a pangolin valued at $5 000.
BY CHARLES LAITON
The pair has since filed an application for bail pending appeal at the High Court.
Provincial magistrate Milton Serima bemoaned the increase in the number of people who are brought before the courts facing the same charge of contravening the Parks and Wildlife Act, in particular, the possession of protected species.
In passing sentence against Holman and Musatyira, Serima said the pair had failed to convince the court by providing special circumstances which would have helped them escape the nine-year jail terms.
“However, against both of them is that the offence they committed is quite serious and has become disturbingly rampant these days with hardly a week passing without these courts receiving one, two or more of such cases,” Serima said.
“The offence carries a mandatory sentence which can only be departed from if there are special circumstances. What both accused persons submitted as special circumstances in my view do not constitute any special circumstances at all. As such, there is nothing that can stop this court from effecting the mandatory sentence as provided for,” the magistrate added, before slapping the pair with a nine-year jail term each.
The offence leading to the pair’s incarceration occurred on January 18 this year at Robert Mugabe Square in Harare.
The court heard, on the day in question, two Marlborough police officers received information from one Mwaseba Kosam, an official from Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authority (Zimparks) in Chinhoyi, that Holman and Musatyira were in possession of a pangolin which they were offering for sale in Harare.
Acting on the information, the police detectives joined the Zimparks officials masquerading as buyers and proceeded to Robert Mugabe Square where they agreed to meet the pangolin sellers.
While at the scene, the Zimparks officials approached Holman and Musatyira who were holding a white sack containing the pangolin and as soon as the bag was opened for the buyers to view, the detectives reacted to a signal and approached the two men whom they arrested.
The pair failed to produce a permit which authorised them to possess the pangolin.