One of three men who were arrested last week after being found in possession of five elephant tusks has approached the High Court seeking bail.
Godknows Nyoni (32) of Insiza made an application to the High Court seeking bail pending trial.
Nyoni, through his legal representative Maqhawe Mpofu of Samp Mlaudzi and Partners, denied the allegations levelled against him, citing that he was only asked to transport a parcel from Lupane to Bulawayo but was not aware of the contents.
Nyoni and his two accomplices (who are not represented) Admire Gomba (44) and Promise Lunga (21) of Lupane appeared in court last week following their arrest at the Ntabazinduna Tollgate.
They were arraigned before Bulawayo magistrate Linear Khumalo facing a charge of possession of unmarked/unregistered ivory.
“My client is denying the charge levelled against him. He was given the sack by Gomba and Lunga in Lupane to transport to Bulawayo, to keep it at his workshop on their behalf. He never opened it,” said Mpofu.
“When he arrived in Bulawayo, the workshop was closed so he proceeded to his place of residence in Lochard along Bulawayo – Harare Road. Had he known what he was carrying he would not have risked being arrested by passing through all these roadblocks from Lupane to Bulawayo and other two roadblocks from Bulawayo to his homestead.”
Mpofu said around 10 pm, when Nyoni had already retired to bed, he was called by one of his co-accused asking him to bring the “parcel” back to Bulawayo but he refused.
“They then told him they would meet him halfway at the Ntabazinduna Tollgate so he agreed. When he arrived at the Ntabazinduna Tollgate his co-accused were in the company of the Criminal Investigation Department from the Minerals Flora and Fauna Unit and he was told that he was under arrest for being in possession of ivory which all along was not aware that he was in possession of.”
In their initial appearance at Tredgold Magistrates court, Prosecutor Milton Moyo said on the night of the trio’s arrest, police received a tip-off that the trio was in illegal possession of unmarked ivory.
“On June 30 at 10 pm a tipoff was received that the trio was driving along Harare Road from Lorchard Farm, Insiza, in a black VW polo without registration plates. At around 22:30 detectives from CID MFFU in conjunction with Zimbabwe National Parks Management Authority reacted to the information,” said Moyo.
“They intercepted the car at the Ntabazinduna Tollgate before it had proceeded to Bulawayo. Nyoni was driving the car, Gomba was on the passenger seat while Lunga was seated at the back next to a sack containing the ivory.”
Moyo added that the tusks were taken to the department of Parks and Wildlife where they were tested and confirmed in the presence of the trio.
They are set to return to court on July 16 where they will be provided with their trial date.