Source: Elephant cyanide-poisoning suspects turn tables on cops – NewsDay Zimbabwe November 7, 2017
TWO Victoria Falls men accused of killing 13 elephants through cyanide poisoning have turned the tables on police, accusing the law enforcement agents of torturing them in a bid to induce confessions.
By Nokuthaba Dlamini
The two, Zwelitsha Tshuma (37) of Jambezi under Chief Shana and Steward Msipha (47) from Jabula village under Chief Mvuthu, made the claims yesterday when they appeared again before Victoria Falls resident magistrate Lindiwe Maphosa charged with use of toxic substance in the environment.
According to the State, sometime between October 5 and 12, the accused went to Ngwengwe Springs and poisoned 13 elephants with cyanide-laced oranges.
The two, together with their suspected accomplice, Shepherd Siwela, who is still at large, dehorned four of the elephants and took away the tusks.
The recovered tusks weighed 75,7kg and the total value of the slain elephants was $650 000.
However, their lawyer Thulani Nkala, of Dube and Partners, argued before the courts that his clients were coerced to admit the crime.
“They were severely beaten by police officers, who forced them to admit committing the offence. The tusks and cyanide was recovered in the bush near where those elephants were killed. There is no evidence that links the two and we submit that police carry on with their investigations further before the judgment,” he said.
Nkala added that they had since opened a case against police officers who assaulted his clients during arrest.
Maphosa further remanded the two in custody for judgment on November 17 without handing a conviction.