ZIMBABWE National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) central region manager Tawanda Noel Gotosa yesterday exonerated three Sunday Mail journalists accused of publishing falsehoods, and instead, apologised for supplying them with wrong information regarding elephant poisoning at Hwange National Park.
BY MARY TARUVINGA
Gotosa tendered his apology while giving evidence in the trial of Sunday Mail editor Mabasa Sasa, investigative editor Brian Chitemba and reporter Tinashe Farawo.
The three face charges of falsely reporting that a senior police officer was part of a cyanide poaching syndicate which left over 100 elephants dead in Hwange National Park in 2014.
Under cross-examination by the defence lawyer, Advocate Fadzai Mahere, Gotosa, who was the authority’s acting spokesperson during that time, admitted he supplied Farawo with the information published by the State-owned weekly.
Mahere asked: “The article says you said arrests were made, is it true or false? Is it true that you told Farawo that an area manager had been suspended over the issue?”
Gotosa replied: “He (Farawo) was not lying when he said that in his article.”
Initially, Gotosa was forced to apologise to the court after lying under oath that he never told Farawo that a ZimParks area manager had been suspended over the cyanide poisoning case.
Gotosa was made to read a section in his evidence-in-chief and the paragraph revealed that, indeed, he told the reporter the said information.
He then admitted to have lied under oath and apologised to the court.
“I admit I lied. My apologies, your worship,” he said.
As the cross-examination continued, Gotosa told court that he could not rule out that there were Asians, parks and wild life rangers as well as police officers involved in the cyanide poaching syndicate.
He also told court he had no evidence to rule out the involvement of a senior police officer in the scandal.
Earlier in the trial, a key State witness, national police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba, also said police would not deny that a senior officer was possibly involved, but went on to demand the name of the implicated officer from The Sunday Mail.
The trial is expected to continue on June 17 when Gotosa will wind up his evidence before ZimParks spokesperson Caroline Washaya-Moyo testifies.
Magistrate Tendai Mahwe is presiding over the case while Francisca Mukumbiri is prosecuting.