Four armed ‘poach­ers’nabbed

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Wal­ter Mswazie Masvingo Cor­re­spon­dent

PO­LICE ar­rested four armed men, some putting on anti-track­ing shoes, for al­legedly hunt­ing a rhino at Save Val­ley Con­ser­vancy in Chiredzi.

Fianda Chit­iga (35) of Hat­cliffe in Harare, Cus­tom Mugejo (45) of Cop­per Queen in Gokwe, Shim­mer Gwatidzo Bere (32) of Gud­hare Vil­lage un­der Chief Dan­dawa in Hu­rungwe and Moses Moses (36) of Glen No­rah in Harare al­legedly went to Save Val­ley armed with ri­fles that had si­lencers, with the in­ten­tion to hunt rhi­noc­eros.

The quar­tet pleaded not guilty to con­tra­ven­ing the Parks and Wildlife Act, which pro­hibits hunt­ing of spec­i­fied pro­tected an­i­mals and pos­sess­ing of dan­ger­ous weapons when they ap­peared be­fore Masvingo pro­vin­cial mag­is­trate Mr Lang­ton Ndok­era on Tues­day.

The four were re­manded in cus­tody to Fri­day af­ter the court or­dered the State to in­ves­ti­gate their com­plaints against po­lice.

The men com­plained that they were as­saulted by po­lice and were not given an op­por­tu­nity to seek le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tion.

For the State Ms Nancy Maku­vise said on Fri­day last week at around 8AM, po­lice from Chiredzi re­ceived a tip off that a gang of sus­pected armed poach­ers were spot­ted at Save Val­ley Con­ser­vancy.

“Po­lice de­tec­tives teamed up with Save Val­ley Con­ser­vancy rangers and sup­port unit de­tails to pa­trol the con­ser­vancy. On Saturday at around 7AM, the four sus­pects were spot­ted in Chishakwe Pad­docks in Save Val­ley Con­ser­vancy hunt­ing,” said Ms Maku­vise.

Ms Maku­vise said the team am­bushed three of the sus­pects who were fol­low­ing the spoor of a rhi­noc­eros.

The rangers and po­lice re­alised that Chit­iga and Mugejo were putting on anti-track­ing shoes while Bere had socks on his shoes, ap­par­ently to hide his trail.

Po­lice and rangers then sprang from their vin­tage points, fired two warn­ing shots, and or­dered the sus­pects to lie down be­fore ar­rest­ing them.

Po­lice re­alised that Chit­iga had a 303 ri­fle se­rial num­ber V7948 fit­ted with a si­lencer and nine rounds of am­mu­ni­tion while Mugejo was armed with a 458 ri­fle se­rial num­ber 9825, also fit­ted with a si­lencer. He had 21 rounds of am­mu­ni­tion in his pos­ses­sion while Bere was car­ry­ing bags with sheath knives, a torch and food stuffs.

Fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tions by po­lice led to the ar­rest of the third sus­pect, Moses who had al­legedly dropped the three and was wait­ing to pick them up af­ter ex­e­cu­tion of their mis­sion.

“Moses who was driv­ing Ford Ranger and wait­ing to pick Chit­iga, Mugejo and Bere was ar­rested at Msaizi River along Mbuyane­handa-Chiremwaremwa Road af­ter be­ing called by Chit­iga,” she said.

The court heard that the sus­pects were also us­ing a Mazda Cronos be­long­ing to Chit­iga which po­lice re­cov­ered along Mutare-Masvingo Road but the driver could not be lo­cated.

The re­cov­ered fire arms, three satchel bags, three sheath knives and two ve­hi­cles were avail­able as ex­hibits.

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