By Walter Nyamukondiwa
Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority rangers – Timothy Tembo and Chidumo Mabarani were buried Wednesday in Kariba and Gokwe respectively.
The two were killed by suspected poachers in Lake Kariba on New Year’s Eve leading to a week of joint searches involving security personnel from Zimbabwe and Zambia.
This comes as security services from the two countries are working closely to investigate and bring finality to the issue which is being treated as murder.
Tembo was buried at John Range Cemetery in Kariba in a funeral that drew scores of residents, Zimparks officials and government officials from Kariba district.
His colleague Mabarani was also buried yesterday in Gokwe.
Zimparks deputy director-general Geoffreys Matipano said Zimparks was committed to the safety of its rangers.
‘This is a very unfortunate incident and as Parks we are very much concerned with our people’s safety. These are our workers, these are rangers who were on duty. This is national duty, protecting the natural resource including wildlife and fish.
“We are aware that the incident took place and perpetrated by people from across the border. We are working with them and this is being handled by appropriate structures,” said Mr Matipano.
The security organs including the Joint Operations Command (JOC) and the Zambian equivalent are working closely to investigate the murder.
A joint search team including the Zimbabwe Republic Police subaqua unit managed to retrieve the bodies of two ZimParks rangers between Spurning and Long Islands in Lake Kariba.
They reportedly had their hands tied behind their backs and had multiple stab wounds.
A church service was conducted in Harare on Wednesday before the bodies were taken to their respective burial centres.
According to sources close to the investigations, the rangers, who numbered three during the patrol, allegedly encountered four Zambian poachers who had encroached onto the Zimbabwean side of Lake Kariba and managed to arrest them.
The rangers took the poachers to their camp at Changa Island before leaving behind their colleague and firearms and ventured into the lake, reportedly on their way to Kariba town for further handling of the case.
It is during this period that they were reportedly killed.
The boat that the rangers were using to transport the suspected poachers from Zambia was found near Siavonga in Zambia, without an engine. It has not yet been recovered.
The boat showed signs of having been scotched in a futile attempt to conceal evidence. The Herald