A 23-YEAR-OLD Harare man was yesterday slapped with an effective nine-year jail term for illegal possession of a pangolin.
BY SILENCE CHARUMBIRA
Magistrate Tendai Mahwe said although Moses Gatsi was convicted on his own plea of guilty and being a first offender, there were no special circumstances to warrant him a lenient sentence.
Prosecutor Sebastian Mutizirwa presented that on Friday last week, police detectives received a tip-off that Gatsi intended to sell a pangolin.
Following up on the leads, police proceeded to Harare Main Post Office purporting to be buyers of the pangolin and linked up with Gatsi.
They drove to Highfield where Gatsi had hidden the pangolin, leading to his arrest after failing to produce a permit authorising him to keep the animal.
The pangolin, valued at $5 000, was taken to the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority offices.
In mitigation, Gatsi said he was responsible for the welfare of his two younger siblings as his parents were deceased.
“In passing sentence, I took into account that the accused (Gatsi) is a first offender who pleaded guilty and thus showed contrition. However, the accused possessed a pangolin, which is a specially protected animal, without a licence,” Mahwe said.
“This is a serious offence which is now prevalent and deterrent sentences are called for if pangolins are not to face extinction.
“My hands are tied to the minimum mandatory sentence,” the magistrate said, before slapping Gatsi with the mandatory sentence.