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    Tuesday, 1 August 2017

    Rhino poacher hides in wardrobe

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    Magistrate orders Police to investigate Army, CIO as...


    MASVINGO – Masvingo Provincial Magistrate, Langton Ndokera has challenged the Police to be brave enough to investigate members of the CIO, the Army and Government officials as there is evidence that some of them are the brains behind syndicates involved in poaching rhinos in conservancies.
    Ndokera made the call when he convicted Tavengwa Machona who was shot and injured while following a rhino spoor in the Save Conservancy in Bikita in December 2015. Making his ruling, Ndokera noted that Machona and two other accomplices were driven and dropped at the conservancy by Mudhenge Munashe Mugwira who is a CIO operative based in Bulawayo.He convicted Machona on a charge of hunting for a rhino and sentenced him to the mandatory nine years in prison. However, Mugwira who was arraigned as accused number two was acquitted on the close of the State case because there wasn't enough evidence to pin him to the case. He bemoaned the lack of Police investigation on the big fish which saw Mugwira easily escaping the case.
    Ndokera also observed that Mugwira used a vehicle from the President's office on that mission.
    He further noted that the injured poacher was treated for the gun wounds at a military hospital although he was not employed by the Army.
    He raised questions on why an officer from the President's department drove the poacher to the conservancy and why the poacher was treated under a false name at a military hospital by an officer from the Presidential Guard.
    "Whatever sentence we give to the accused, there is need for thorough investigations. One of the accused mentioned in this case is a CIO  officer based in Bulawayo. The medical officer who treated the shot and injured poacher is of Presidential Guard Battalion in Harare, so these offences show existence of syndicates of people in Government offices.
    "Police must be brave enough to catch the big fish and also establish sources of firearms," said Ndokera.
    It was the State case that on December 13, 2015 Machona and Mugwira proceeded to Save Conservancy in the car of  Mugwira's Employer (President's office) with the purpose of hunting for rhinos for their horns. Mugwira allegedly used his employer's Nissan Hardbody registration number ACG 0890. They were allegedly armed with a 7,62 by 39mm AK 47 rifle, 7 by 57mm waffenfabrik mauster rifle fitted with a silencing device, a telescope, 30 rounds of ammunition of the AK rifle and 13 rounds of ammunition of the waffenfabrik rifle.
    On December 14, Mugwira dropped off Machona and the two other accomplices, Jason Chisango and Mthandazo Tshuma who were armed at the conservancy and they entered into the conservancy and began hunting by following spoors of a rhino.
    They were seen by game scouts at around 330pm and exchanged fire and Tshuma was shot and killed, Chisango was injured and apprehended and Machona was shot on the leg but he managed to escape.
    Police managed to get information about Mugwira and Machona from Chisango and Detective Assistant Inspector Kumbirai Tauya tracked down Machona to Norton where they found his three wives at home. The wives told the Police that they did not know where their husband was but the detectives found him hiding in a wardrobe on searching the house. They also found a medical report that showed that Machona was treated at an Army hospital as the cards had military stamps.
    Muchona refuted allegations that he was at Save Conservancy and insisted his wound was from a traffic accident. He also said he could not remember the name of the hospital where he was treated but said he was treated at an Army hospital because the owner of the car that was involved in the accident was employed by the Army.
    However, a Police medical officer, Dr Godfrey Zimbwa established that Muchona's injury was a gunshot wound.
    Magistrate Ndokera expressed concern that Police did not thoroughly investigate the  fingered Army and CIO officers. He said although Detective Tauya heard a lot of information on the extent of the involvement of Army and CIO officers in the case, she did no gather evidence to support what she heard.
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