By Patrick Chitumba
A Gweru police officer has been arrested together with three accomplices after they were allegedly found in possession of a pangolin valued at US$5 000.
Sergeant Saulpsio Chiromiri (44) of ZRP Nehanda in Gweru and his accomplices Innocent Tumburai (35), Rudo Shumba (32), also of Gweru and Whisper Shenje (36) of Dangamvura Area 16 in Mutare were allegedly arrested after they tried to sell the animal which is classified as an endangered species to police officers working undercover in Kwekwe on Monday morning.
Pangolins are threatened by poaching as well as deforestation in their natural habitats and are the most trafficked mammals in the world.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said he was still looking for details regarding the arrest of the police officer and his accomplices.
However, sources close to the matter told this publication that the four were arrested for allegedly contravening a section of the Parks and Wildlife Act Chapter 20:14 and Section 2 of the Parks and Wildlife (specially protected), regulations, SI 71/20 “unlawful possession of a specially protected animal”
“On August 17, detectives from Minerals Flora and Fauna Unit, Kwekwe received information to the effect that the accused persons were in possession of pangolin in Kwekwe and were offering it for sale.
“Upon receiving information, the detectives posed as buyers and arranged with the accused persons to meet at Border Town Complex, Kwekwe,” said a source.
They said the detectives then proceeded to Border Town Complex where they met the accused persons who were allegedly using a black Honda fit.
The accused persons, sources said showed the detectives the pangolin which was in a sack in the vehicle boot and the accused persons demanded US$4 500.
“The detectives subsequently arrested the accused persons and recovered the pangolin. The pangolin is valued at US$5 000.
“It was established that accused person number one is a member of the Zimbabwe Republic Police stationed at ZRP Nehanda, Gweru and is currently on vacation leave,” said a source.
“The accused persons were interviewed and it was established that they fetched the pangolin in Mutare. The Chronicle