TWO Victoria Falls men accused of killing 13 elephants using oranges laced with cyanide have been acquitted after the State failed to prove their involvement in the killings.
BY NOKUTHABA DLAMINI
Zwelitsha Tshuma (37) of Jambezi under Chief Shana and Steward Msipha (47) from Jabula village under Chief Mvuthu appeared before Victoria Falls resident magistrate Lindiwe Maphosa charged with the use of toxic substance in the environment.
According to the State, the two, in the period between October 5 and 12 went to Ngwengwe Springs and killed 13 elephants using cyanide-laced oranges.
The two together with their accomplice, Shepherd Siwela, still at large, dehorned four of the elephants.
The recovered tusks weighed 75,7kg and the value of the slain elephants was $650 000.
However, their lawyer Thulani Nkala of Dube and Partners argued that his clients were wrongly implicated.
Maphosa concurred saying that police had rushed to make arrests based on witnesses’ statements.
“Police failed to carry out proper investigations; it boggles the mind as to why they didn’t search the homes of accused persons. It doesn’t make sense why they’d search a witness’ home and then go on to arrest the two accused based on what a witness told them.
“More so, eight suspects were arrested, but only these two remained because of evidence obtained from Gift Tshuma which isn’t sustainable in court. I, therefore, find the two not guilty,” Maphosa ruled.