By Judith Sibanda
The trial of former Victoria Falls mayor Sifiso Mpofu, who is accused of illegally possessing eleven elephant tusks, failed to kick off yesterday, after the state reported that prosecutors who were meant to preside over the trial perished in a car accident, about a fortnight ago.
Onias Nyathi, who was meant to be a pro duo trial prosecutor told Victoria Falls resident magistrate Lindiwe Mpahosa that the case could not be heard until next month when the state finds a replacement prosecutor.
Mpofu (42) had pleaded not guilty to the offence together with his other two co-accused Milton Sibindi (47) and Patrick Sibanda (49) all from Mkhosana suburb.
“The state would like to inform the courts that the co-prosecutor who was meant to preside over the three accused’s matter was involved in an accident which led to the loss of lives and injuries,” Nyathi said.
“This is a high profile case and we have applied to National Prosecution Authority (NPA) for replacement of Charlene Murove- Gorerino who survived the accident but was seriously injured that she cannot appear for the state. We would like to propose that the matter be remanded further to June 4.”
Magistrate Maphosa granted the request by the state to move the trial to the proposed date.
The accident which has caused the postponement claimed Hwange region prosecutor Loveness Maseko (32) and Hwange court administrator Pertunia Mawundura (27) who were bound to Bulawayo for a wedding after an NPA Isuzu double cab they were in burst tyre and veered off the road.
Among the survivors were area prosecutor in-charge of Matabeleland North Martha Cheda and Hwange Magistrates’ Court prosecutors Tsepo Cheda, Jamesina Makanza as well as a policewoman Assistant Inspector Ester Sibanda, who is also attached to the NPA as a prosecutor
Allegations are that on March 7 at midnight, a team comprising of police officers and Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) rangers were on an anti-poaching night patrol in Mkhosana when they observed a white Toyota Harrier parked at house number 5449 where Mpofu resides.
Upon seeing the team, the driver allegedly sped off and that is when they saw the three accused carrying elephants tusks each walking towards the gate before dropping the ivory and running away upon interception, leading to gunshots firing as a warning leading to their arrest.
The state further alleged that law officials gained entry into the house and recovered two more tusks at Mpofu’s bedroom.
The three are on RTGS$500 bail and they still report at Victoria Falls police station twice a week.