via Top ivory poacher, accomplices nabbed – NewZimbabwe 20/01/2016
TWO Harare men suspected to have connived with George Seremwe, a businessman believed to be the ringleader of a poaching syndicate, appeared in court Tuesday.
Nesbert Mukora and Shephered Guzhe appeared before magistrate Elijah Makomo on allegations of smuggling six ivory tusks suspected to have been stolen from the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.
Their accomplice, Seremwe, 44, was however released when the state lost its case after the police over-detained him in contravention of his constitutional rights.
Mukora and Guzhe surrendered themselves to the police after newspapers said they were implicated in this case, the court heard.
However, through their lawyers, Rungano Mahuni and Walter Bherebhende, the two pleaded not guilty and applied for bail. The magistrate will deliver his ruling Thursday.
Guzhe’s attorney, Mahuni said his client did not participate in this alleged offence.
“My client will argue that he only referred the two Chinese buyers to Seremwe,” he said.
According to court papers, Seremwe of Avondale Harare is the owner of Nzou Safaris in Muzarabani.
Acting in connivance with Mukora, a trophy hunter, James Mackenzie, a professional hunter, and Guzhe, a senior ranger with Zimparks, Seremwe allegedly acquired six tasks whose origins have yet to be established.
With his knowledge of the ivory industry, Mukora purportedly found buyers of the tusks.
The court heard that sometime in June, Mukora brought Chinese nationals, Cong Yuling and Dong Anmin to his accomplices after indicating that they had a hunting quota which could accommodate the six tusks they wanted.
They went on to charge $45, 000 and $30, 000 was paid as deposit.
Knowing that the tusks did not originate from his Safaris, Seremwe went on to engage the services of Mackenzie and Joseph Chitambwa, professional hunters, to purport that they hunted three elephants from his safaris, the court heard.
On June 6, the accused registered two elephant tusks in Yuling’s name at Zimparks headquarters.
The registration was facilitated by Guzhe who again illicitly went to Mukora’s house in Ruwa where the tusks were being kept and serialised them.
They were paid a total of $60, 000 by the Chinese nationals and shared the money.
To cover up their illicit deeds, they then applied for a hunting permit from Zimparks to hunt one elephant as per his existing quota.
Seremwe also applied for an additional permit to hunt two more elephants which he was granted.
Acting on the misrepresentation, Zimparks facilitated the exportation of the six tusks as if they were legitimately acquired from Nzou Safaris.
Investigations carried out in Muzarabani Rural District Council later revealed that Seremwe never hunted an elephant since the inception of a partnership agreement in 2011.
Prosecutors told the court that, as a result, Zimparks suffered prejudice of its good administration after the tusks were smuggled to Asia using fake documents.
After his arrest, it was also reported that Seremwe allegedly demanded another $20, 000, saying it was for a Government minister that he was dealing with to facilitate the documents.