By Leonard Ncube
Former Victoria Falls Mayor Sifiso Mpofu and his co-accused who are facing charges of possessing 11 elephant tusks have been granted $500 bail coupled with stringent reporting conditions.
Mpofu (42), Milton Sibindi (47) and Patrick Sibanda (49) all of Mkhosana suburb had been in remand prison since their arrest a fortnight ago.
Through their lawyer Mr Thulani Nkala of Dube and Nkala Legal Practitioners, the trio applied for bail to the High Court in Bulawayo.
Justice Martin Makonese granted each of them $500 bail and ordered them to report at Victoria Falls Police Station twice a week.
“Applicants are hereby ordered to deposit a sum of RTGS$500 each as monetary bail with the Assistant Registrar of the High Court in Bulawayo,” said Justice Makonese.
Each of the three has to surrender title deeds and travelling documents as surety that they will not abscond trial.
They were also ordered to reside at their given addresses and not to interfere with witnesses.
Mpofu, Sibindi and Sibanda appeared for routine remand before Victoria Falls magistrate Ms Lindiwe Maphosa and were remanded to April 17.
The magistrate ordered the state to come up with a trial date before the next remand date after the defence lawyer complained about delays in starting trial.
“May we have a trial date when we come back to this court on the 17th of April. We can’t be told that the docket is not yet complete because naturally you don’t arrest to investigate but it should be the other way round,” said Mr Nkala.
Allegations by the State are that the three were arrested when a patrolling anti-poaching team raided the former mayor’s house in Mkhosana suburb on March 7.
Prosecutors allege that 11 elephant tusks, seven of them raw and four unmarked, were recovered.
“On 7 March 2018 a team comprising police and Zimparks rangers were on an anti-poaching patrol in Mkhosana. They observed a white Toyota Harrier parked in front of the gate at House Number 5449. Upon seeing the team the driver sped off,” said Mr Onias Nyathi, the prosecutor.
The anti-poaching team also allegedly saw the three accused persons carrying three elephants tusks each walking towards the gate. The three dropped the ivory and started running away prompting the officers to fire a warning shot into the air, the court was told.
Mpofu, Sibindi and Sibanda were then arrested. Two more tusks were recovered from Mpofu’s bedroom. The 11 tusks were taken to Victoria Falls Police Station.
Their weight and value were not given in court. DailyNews