BY SILAS NKALA
THREE of four suspected poachers who were arrested for illegal possession of 76,7kg of raw ivory were on Wednesday last week acquitted, while one was placed on his defence after the State succeeded in convincing the court that he had a case to answer.
A Zimbabwe National Army deserter, Faunel Luphahla (34), Dete villager, Ndaba Ncube (27) and a Gwabalanda resident, Innocencia Siwela (42) represented by a lawyer Thulani Nkala denied the charge of possession and transfer of raw ivory without a permit when they appeared before Hwange magistrate Livard Philemon.
Their lawyer filed an application for discharge at the close of the State’s case, indicating that the State had failed to prove a case against his clients. On Wednesday the magistrate upheld the applications.
The State represented by Vumizulu Mangena, however, convinced the court that one of the suspects, Alos Savanhu (38) had a case to answer.
Savanhu, represented by Givemore Muviringi, was remanded to Wednesday.
Mangena had told the court that on February 12 at 9pm a team of Zimbabwe Parks and Wild Life Management, Criminal Investigations Department, Mineral Fauna and Flora Unit Dete base were on patrol along Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Road when they came across two suspicious vehicles parked by the roadside.
They stopped to investigate, but one of the cars sped off. The driver of the remaining car bolted and disappeared into the bush. The passenger, Savanhu, also tried to run away, but was arrested.
The car was taken to vehicle inspection section and the police discovered a plastic bag containing three pieces of raw ivory and Savanhu confirmed them to be his.
He then made calls to the other three accomplices, leading to their arrest and recovery of 76,7kg of ivory valued $19 176.