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Four Byo men up for illegal ivory possession

Four men who were found in possession of 7kg of Ivory at Zonk’izizwe shopping centre in Bradfield, Bulawayo, will know their fate in December when the court will deliver its judgement following a full trial.

Tonderai Chidaya (28), Density Kamarata (22), Khemetso Phuthi (20) and Tafadzwa Chifumuro (21) were arrested in March 2021 and are being charged for the possession of ivory.

They pleaded not guilty to the charge and are currently out of custody on bail.

Bulawayo regional magistrate Joseph Mabeza postponed the matter to December 15, 2021, where is set to deliver his judgment.

Tatenda Razemba of Nyawo Ruzive Legal Practice is representing Chidaya while Kamarata and Phuthi are being represented by Kholwani Ngwenya of TJ Mabhikwa and Partners.

Chifumuro is being represented by Bob Sansole of Dube, Mguni, Dube Legal Practitioners.

In their defence, the quartet say they had hired the vehicle they were travelling in and did not know there was ivory inside.  

They alleged that on the day of arrest they had met up to have a braai and Chifumuro facilitated the hiring of the car.

The court heard that they were arrested at the Shopping centre where they claimed to have gone to purchase meat for the braai.

According to their testimonies before the court, Chifumuro was not in the car when they were ambushed by the police, he had gone into TM Supermarket to check meat prices.

Chidaya, Karamata and Phuthi said they were not aware that when they sped off in the car they were running away from the police.

They said they panicked when a group of armed men pounced on them and drew firearms.

“I didn’t know that they were the police. There are a lot of armed robbery cases happening in the city so when we saw the guns we assumed the worst,” Karamata testified.

Phuthi told the court that he was sitting in the back seat of the car but did not see the alleged sack of ivory.

Chifumuro admitted to have facilitated the hiring of the vehicle but said he was not part of the initial braai plans, he was only picked up later.

“I received a call from Chidaya inquiring if I knew someone who could hire out a car for them. The owner of the car overheard our phone conversation and offered his. After collecting it I gave it to Chidaya. I wasn’t with him for over 10 minutes,” said Chifumuro.

“He was gone for almost an hour before he came back with the other two. They asked me to join them for a braai so I suggested to them that we buy the meat from Bradfield that was how we got there. I didn’t the alleged ivory that I’m being charged for.”

For the State, Jeremiah Mtsindikwa argued that the four were all working in common purpose and knew about the ivory in their possession hence they sped off when they saw the police.

Mtsindikwa narrated that on March 14, 2021, at around 10:30 AM police received information that the accused people were in possession of ivory (elephant tusks) and were using a white Toyota IST.

“At around 1PM, detectives from CID Minerals Flora and Fauna Unit in Bulawayo linked with Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority Officials. They proceeded to Zonk’izizwe shopping centre, Bradfield and upon arrival, the team introduced themselves to the accused persons who were all seated in the car. They sped off but rammed onto the entrance gate of the shopping center,” said Mtsindikwa.

“The security agents caught up with them and forced them out of the car. They searched it and recovered two tusks wrapped in a white sack. They were asked to produce documents allowing them to possess the ivory but they had none. The ivory had a combined weight of 7kg and is valued at $1 190.”

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