By Daniel Nemukuyu
A top Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services officer, who was arrested five years ago for allegedly possessing ivory, was this week found not guilty and acquitted by a Hwange magistrate.
Assistant Commissioner Apinos Darlington Mudzamiri was arrested in Binga’s Simuchembo area after police found eight elephant tusks in the vehicle he was travelling in along with two passengers.
The tusks were allegedly hidden under the seat of a red Mahindra pick-up truck on March 9, 2012.
Magistrate Mrs Lindiwe Maphosa cleared Asst Comm Mudzamiri of any wrongdoing after convincing arguments by Harare lawyer Mr Tapson Dzvetero of Antonio Dzvetero Legal Practitioners.
“This court is not convinced that the accused committed the offence charged simply because the State has not proved this beyond reasonable doubt.
“On the other hand, accused person’s version that the court does not have to believe in its entirety, is one that the court can take to be probably true.
“I therefore find him not guilty and acquitted,” ruled Mrs Ma- phosa.
It was Asst Comm Mudzamiri’s defence that he was in the company of a colleague called Shava who loaded his goods in the vehicle. He never checked the nature of the goods.
When Parks and Wildlife Management officials searched the vehicle, the top prison officer said he was surprised to discover that there were elephant tusks behind the seat.
Shava reportedly fled.
Witnesses confirmed that two other people were in the company of Asst Comm Mudzamiri and one of them disappeared at the time of arrest.
Innocent Nyakuswe, who, according to Asst Comm Mudzamiri, was the owner of the ivory, later pleaded guilty to the offence.
Faced with such a defence, the State failed to controvert it, resulting in the court giving the benefit of doubt to the senior officer. The Herald