ZANU PF Matabeleland North deputy provincial secretary John Khumalo (65) and a traditional healer, Sithembiso Tshuma (42), were yesterday jailed for nine years each for illegal possession of a pangolin skin.
BY TINASHE MUNGAZI
Khumalo, of Jotsholo village in Lupane, at first denied the charge before admitting that he wanted to use the skin to seek treatment for his niece’s nose bleeding ailment.
He also said he got the skin from his co-accused when they appeared before Hwange provincial magistrate, Livard Philemon.
Prosecutor Onias Nyathi told the court that on May 26 this year at around 7pm, police received a tip-off that there were people in possession of pangolin scales, who were looking for buyers at a local hotel.
Police officers went to the hotel, where they found Khumalo and Tshuma seated in a car.
After introducing themselves, they requested to search the vehicle before recovering a pangolin skin with scales stashed in a plastic bag in the boot of the car.
After the two failed to provide a permit, they were arrested. The pangolin skin, weighing 0,648kg and with 138 scales, was valued at $690.
Through their lawyer, Givemore Muvhiringi of Muvhiringi and Associates, the duo had earlier argued in court that the skin did not belong to them and suggested that it could have been planted to frame them by the police informant.
Khumalo, however, pleaded for mercy from the court in mitigation after he had been convicted, arguing that he had picked up the animal at his farm and had sought Tshuma’s assistance after hearing that a pangolin could be used to heal nose bleeding.
He said he had a niece afflicted with the problem.