An anti-poaching team comprising police and rangers from the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority has been accused of wrongfully implicating an informant after failing to arrest a known poacher.
A deputy headmaster stationed at Makaza Primary in Tsholotsho, Thokozani Mafikela (43), who was jointly charged with a villager for possessing two elephant tusks, told a court last week that police and rangers approached him so he could help them to arrest a wanted poacher identified as Dyke Ncube.
Mafikela and his co-accused Nicholas Ndlovu (22) were acquitted by the magistrate saying the State had failed to prove its case.
Mafikela said the team however, arrested him after failing to corner Ncube who fled from his homestead when the police arrived at night.
“I was never involved in the crime. Instead I was used as a bait to catch a well-known ivory dealer Dyke Ncube. We met with three witnesses Richard Lunga, Raphael Mudzingwa and Peter Chiza on August 2, 2016 to strategise on how to set a trap for Ncube who lived in Silongwe Village. We eventually met on August 17 to effect the plan and proceeded to Silongwe around 8PM where Mudzingwa was to pose as a buyer. They arrested me after the trap failed,” said Mafikela.
Mudzingwa and Chiza are rangers while Lunga is a cop and testified for the State.
Speaking through their lawyer, Mr Givemore Muvhiringi of Muvhiringi and Partners, Mafikela, originally from Lobengula West in Bulawayo and Nicholas Ndlovu (22) of Silongwe Village under Chief Sipepa pleaded not guilty to possessing, selling, transfering or acquiring raw ivory without a permit, following their arrest in August last year.
Hwange magistrate in charge Mrs Rose Dube found the duo not guilty and acquitted them, as she lambasted the witnesses for lying to the court.
The magistrate said the three witnesses Lunga, Mudzingwa and Chiza were unreliable hence the State failed to prove its case.
“The state’s evidence is so fraught with inconsistencies hence it failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt. For starters the state witnesses’ testimony is corrupted with lies, which only reveal the efforts by witnesses to secure a conviction against the accused at whatever cost,” said Mrs Dube.
“The evidence of Mudzingwa is totally rejected by the court as it was calculated to mislead the court while that of the other two witnesses also leaves a lot be desired. Their evidence is tailor made to fit into each other hence there is no proof that the accused were in possession of the ivory. It’s for the above reasons that the court finds the two accused persons not guilty and acquitted.”
Details of the case were that Mafikela and Ndlovu were arrested after police and rangers received a tip off that the two were selling elephant tusks.
“On August 17, 2016 an anti-poaching team comprising police and rangers from the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority received a tip off that Mafikela was selling elephant tusks,” said the prosecutor Ms Charlene Gorerino.
The court was told that the anti-poaching team trapped Mafikela and Mudzingwa posed as a buyer.
They allegedly arranged to meet Mafikela at Tsholotsho Business Centre and he led them to Ndlovu where the tusks were recovered, the court heard.
Mafikela and Ndlovu were arrested after showing the two tusks to the anti-poaching team, it was alleged. The Chronicle