Botswana wildlife officers released
The Ministry of Environment Wildlife and Tourism in Botswana has confirmed that all three wildlife officers who were recently arrested and charged in Zimbabwe have been released.
The officers, all male and working for the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, were arrested by Zimbabwe Police on the 19th January 2010 after mistakenly crossing into Zimbabwe while on duty near Lesoma Village.
On the 8th, February 2010, the Hwange Regional Magistrate Court near Victory Falls found them guilty on one count out of three that they were charged with.
Each officer was fined USD 100 for using ungazetted points to enter into Zimbabwe. Other charges that were dropped are: unlawfully and intentionally smuggling fire-arms into Zimbabwe; and unlawfully and intentionally possessing of ammunitions without a license.
The Ministry reported in a press statement that all the officers arrived safely in Botswana on the 9th February 2010 and went through counseling upon their arrival. They have already been given day offs to rest and meet their families.
“It is however, unfortunate that Zimbabwe Authorities has since indicated their intent to appeal the court ruling. This means there is likelihood for the officers to stand for appeal case in Zimbabwe in a date to be decided by the court,” read the statement.
Currently, government properties, including the vehicle that the officers were using are still impounded by Zimbabwe Police pending the appeal case. Botswana Gazette