Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Chinese nationals languish in jail over rhino horn… court failing to get interpreter

By Leonard Ncube

SEVEN Chinese nationals who are being accused of possessing more than 20kg of rhino horn pieces with a combined value of close to $1 million are still languishing in remand prison as the court is failing to get a Chinese interpreter.

Chinese nationals cover their faces from cameras with towels as they leave the courtroom on January 3, 2019, at the Victoria Falls magistrate court where they faced charges of breaching Zimbabwe’s wildlife laws for possessing rhino horn pieces (AFP / Zinyange AUNTONY)
Chinese nationals cover their faces from cameras with towels as they leave the courtroom on January 3, 2019, at the Victoria Falls magistrate court where they faced charges of breaching Zimbabwe’s wildlife laws for possessing rhino horn pieces (AFP / Zinyange AUNTONY)

The court was told that Zeng Dengui (35), Peicon Jang (35), Liu Cheng (23), Yu Xian (25), Yong Zhu (25), Chen Zhiangfu (30) and Qui Jinchang (29) are not proficient in the English language.

They were arrested on December 23 after being found in possession of several pieces of rhino horns weighing 20,98kg and valued at $938 700.

The seven were charged with contravening Section 45(1) (b) of the Parks and Wildlife Act Chapter 20:14 as read with’ Section 128(b) of the same Act, which criminalises keeping, possessing, selling or disposing of any live specially protected animal, meat or trophy of any such animal.

Communication between the accused and court officials has been difficult owing to the language barrier.

Prosecutor Mr Bhekimpilo Tshabalala said arrangements were being made to get an interpreter.

“We don’t have an interpreter who can speak the accused’s language and we are requesting that the matter be rolled over so that arrangements can be made to get an interpreter,” he said.

Defence lawyer Mr Givemore Mvhiringi of Mvhiringi and Associates said his clients have a constitutional right to be tried within a reasonable time.

Last week Mr Tshabalala told the court that police had come up with further charges of money laundering and theft of a motor vehicle against the accused.

On Wednesday the case was rolled over to yesterday in anticipation that an interpreter would have been found. Yesterday court officials were still trying to get one.

Prosecutors allege that the seven were found in possession of rhino pieces at house number 858 Aerodrome on December 23.

The house belongs to a taxidermist who operates a wildlife trophy shop.

Police received a tip-off and raided the house after obtaining a search warrant from court.

They recovered several pieces of rhino horns weighing 20,98kg in a bedroom used by one of the accused. A digital scale was also recovered. The total value of the pieces is $938 700. The Chronicle