Thursday, September 26, 2013

'Poison' poachers sentenced to 16 years in prison, to pay $800 000 compensation

THREE out of the eight suspected poachers who were arrested last week for poisoning water ponds in the Hwange National Park resulting in the death of about 81 elephants were yesterday jailed for between 15 and 16 years. Thabani Zondo (24), Robert Maphosa (42) and Dedani Tshuma (25) were convicted on their own pleas of guilty of contravening the Environmental Management Act and illegal possession of ivory when they appeared before Hwange provincial magistrate Rose Dube. Zondo and Maphosa were jailed for an effective 15 years with labour and ordered to restitute $600 000 to the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority of Zimbabwe by December 31. Tshuma was sentenced to an effective 16 years with labour and also ordered to pay $200 000 by the same date. However, there was a separation of trial with the remaining five — Misheck Mafu (46) of Thula Line in Tsholotsho, Alexander Ngwenya (42) of Tshabalala, Farai Chitsa (34) of Old Pumula, Nqobizitha Tshuma (25) of Northend and Tinashe Sengwayo (22) of Northend in Bulawayo — expected to appear in court on October 4 facing the same charges. They were all remanded in custody. The poaching syndicate, with four members based in Bulawayo, allegedly poisoned and killed about 81 elephants at Hwange National Park. A total of 17 tusks valued at about $120 000 were recovered.The gang would allegedly target pools frequented by elephants at the national park and use salt laced with cyanide to kill the jumbos. They were arrested after game rangers discovered two elephants dead and dehorned and reported the matter to the police. Investigations led to the discovery of more rotting carcasses of dehorned elephants.There were tracks from the dead animals that led to Mafu’s homestead which police followed leading to the breakthrough arrest. Mafu then implicated members of his syndicate. Source: Southern Eye

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