By Mashudu Netsianda
A jailed Binga businessman whose fishing rigs were illegally impounded by the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authority Management (Zimparks) for allegedly fishing in Lake Kariba without a permit, has approached the High Court seeking a review of the proceedings of a lower court.
Taurai Marava (46) was jointly convicted together with his two employees, Dumezweni Munenge (31) and Davie Chagwambala (37) for contravening a section of the Parks and Wildlife Authority Act (fishing without a permit), by Binga magistrate Mr Talent Phiri.
Marava was sentenced to six months in jail after two months were conditionally suspended for five years while his two employees were fined $100 each or four months in jail. The two fishing vessels and more than 60kg of dried kapenta fish were forfeited to the State as part of the sentence.
Marava, through his lawyers Shenje and Company, filed an application for review at the Bulawayo High Court challenging the proceedings of the lower court, citing the State and Mr Phiri as respondents.
Marava wants a court order setting aside the court proceedings conducted by Mr Phiri.
He also wants the trial to be held de novo before a different magistrate. “Quite evidently, the first respondent (Mr Phiri) showed me that he was not patient to conclude the proceedings and imposed ‘a sentence of imprisonment’ when I had not been convicted.
Such conduct is inconsistent with the well settled requirement that judicial decisions must not only be procedurally correct but must conform to notions of substantive fairness,” said Marava.
He said the Binga magistrate said the custodial sentence was punishment for his conduct during trial.
This was after Marava reportedly wrote a letter of complaint to the provincial magistrate alleging that there was a request for a bribe by the trial prosecutor, Mr Bruce Maphosa, and Mr Phiri for his freedom. “I pray that the proceedings under Binga CRB156/19 be quashed and set aside and must start afresh before an impartial judicial officer,” said Marava.
Marava was in April jailed for fishing without a permit and his incarceration came a month after he had successfully challenged the forfeiture of his fishing rigs at the High Court.
Justice Takuva ruled that it was illegal for Zimparks to impound the two vessels and ordered Zimparks to immediately release them.
The two rigs were found fishing at the mouth of Sengwe River, which is a prohibited area by virtue of being a fish breeding zone.
Zimparks then made a criminal complaint which led to his incarceration. In papers before the court, it was stated that on April 8 at Lokola Sand Beach area in the Zambezi River, Munenge and Chagwambala, who are employed by Marava as rig captains, were on Lake Kariba fishing for kapenta.
On the same day, Zimparks rangers, Absalom Matuka, Philani Dladla and Ismael Phiri who were on patrol intercepted the pair’s fishing rigs KF2944 and KF3026.
The rangers allegedly discovered that the accused had no fishing permits and arrested them.
The pair had 45,5kg of semi dry kapenta and 15,7kg of dried kapenta worth $916,50. The two rigs were impounded and fishing nets removed. The Chronicle