FORMER Energy deputy minister Hubert Nyanhongo was arrested on Saturday and brought before a Chipinge magistrate on Monday after being found in possession of a live pangolin in his Jeep Cherokee sport utility vehicle.
BY STAFF REPORTER
Nyanhongo (60), who is Zanu PF Nyanga North legislator, and his three alleged accomplices – Samuel Samson (42), Misheck Satuku (47) and Positive Mutenda (29) – were charged with contravening Section 45(1) of the Parks and Wildlife Act (Chapter 20:14) as read with Section 128 of General Amendment Number 5.
Magistrate Noah Gwatidzo remanded them in custody to April 20 and advised them to apply for bail at the High Court.
The State alleges that Nyanhongo was arrested in Birchenough by officials from the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority following a tip-off by a Save Valley Conservancy worker who had disguised himself as a potential buyer of the endangered animal.
Illegal possession of the animal species carries a minimum mandatory jail sentence of nine years, and lately courts have been inundated with similar cases with the pangolins said to be in high demand for their scales, which are used in traditional medicine, and their meat and foetuses, which are eaten as a delicacy in some parts of East Asia.
Despite the fact that pangolins are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), they are considered the world’s most trafficked animal.