A Masvingo teacher and his two accomplices have been jailed for an effective nine years each after they were found in possession of a pangolin, which they tried to sell for $5 000.
Brighton Ngwenyama, who teaches at Mushandike High School, Tatenda Mhango and Kudzai Shava, both of Mushandike resettlement area, were jailed by Masvingo magistrate Mr Peter Madhibha after they were convicted of possessing a protected animal.
Mr Madhibha ruled that a mandatory sentence was appropriate for the trio on the basis that they deliberatively committed an offence by trying to sell the pangolin.
In mitigation, through their lawyer Ms Yolanda Chandata of Muzenda and Partners, the trio pleaded for leniency arguing that their offence did not cause any proven harm to Zimbabwe’s economy.
They also argued that there was no prejudice to the State as the pangolin was recovered alive.
Mr Madhibha quashed an attempt by the defence to compel the State to produce the pangolin in court as an exhibit.
In his ruling, Mr Madhibha said it was not a requirement to always produce an exhibit in court, citing murder trials where the victims’ corpses were not brought to court.
Court proceeding were temporarily disrupted soon after sentence was pronounced when one of the convicts’ wives wailed uncontrollably.
Agreed facts are that on April 11, 2016, police in Masvingo received a tip-off that the trio was selling a pangolin and they proceeded to Bhuka Business Centre near Mushandike, about 20km along the Masvingo-Beitbridge Road.
On arrival, they phoned the convicts posing as prospective buyers.
Ngwenyama and his accomplices brought the pangolin to the detectives and told them they were selling it for $5 000.
The detectives then ordered them to put the pangolin in the boot of their car while they processed payment.
Other detectives who were watching from a distance then pounced on the convicts and identified themselves.
Shava tried to flee, but was shot in the leg and they were all arrested.
Mr Fidelis Nyamukondiwa appeared for the State.