By Kudzai Chikiwa
A Binga inyanga serving nine years in prison for illegal possession of 400 grammes of pangolin scales has approached the High Court challenging his sentence.
Damason Mutale (39) of Chininga village was last year convicted of violating a section of the Parks and Wildlife Act (unlawful possession of pangolin trophy scales) and sentenced to an effective nine years in jail by Binga magistrate Mr Livard Philemon .
Mutale, through his lawyers Mvhiringi and Associates, filed an application challenging both conviction and sentence.
He is seeking an order nullifying Mr Philemon’s sentence, arguing that it was too excessive. In his grounds of appeal, Mutale said the lower court erred by failing to consider special circumstances.
“The court a quo erred grossly at law and fact in finding that there were no special circumstances in the case yet appellant pointed out that he was a traditional healer, ” argued the lawyers.
The lawyers also said the court erred by failing to recognise that the appellant is an unsophisticated and uneducated man.
“The appellant was genuinely ignorant of the law and was genuinely mistaken for thinking that as a traditional healer he could continue to use the pangolin scales for traditional purposes,” said the lawyers.
According to papers before the court, Mutale was arrested after someone tipped an official from the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) that he was in possession of 71 pangolin scales.
Zimparks officials teamed up with police detectives and raided Mutale’s home leading to the discovery of the pangolin scales weighing 400g. He failed to produce a permit leading to his arrest. The Chronicle