via Five men convicted of killing 23 jumbos 16/11/2013 by Staff Reporter NewZimbabwe
FIVE villagers, who include an ex-cop, from Jotsholo in Lupane District will be sentenced Monday after they pleaded guilty to poisoning to death 23 elephants with cyanide.
The poisoning, which caused the loss of elephants and tusks valued at an estimated $1,2 million, took place in Ngamo Forest between August last year and October this year.
According to the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, 149 jumbos have been poisoned to death by poachers but independent groups claim the figure could be as high as 300.
Authorities have urged tough sentences for those convicted in a bid to stop an ecological disaster which, according to opposition groups, involves top officials in government and the security services.
Meanwhile, all the five villagers pleaded guilty when they appeared before Hwange magistrate Lindiwe Maphosa on Thursday and were remanded in custody to Monday for sentencing.
Former police officer William Ncube, 53, who was fingered by accomplices as the supplier of the cyanide told detectives that he was introduced to the scheme by people in government departments.
He faced two charges- one of possessing ivory and the other of discharging hazardous substances.
For the latter charge, he was jointly accused with charged with Sikhumbuzo Sibindi, of Fatima Village and Elvis Nkomo of Bhangale Village as well as Mkhululi Ncube and Johannes Munkombwe, both from Bhanda Village all under chief Mabhikwa.
The court heard that the five accomplices mixed cyanide with water and put it in buckets which they deposited in the bush close to drinking points for elephants.
Mkhululi Ncube and Munkombwa were said to have received an undisclosed quantity of cyanide from the former ZRP officer and, using the same method, killed 20 elephants, taking away 34 tusks.
Prosecutor Tawanda Sigauke urged stiff sentences saying cyanide was a lethal chemical whose effects were far-reaching.
“When consumed it causes clotting of blood and loss of oxygen and as a result the animal suffocates to death,” he said.
“Other animals are also in danger and there is a possibility that the chemical will dissolve into water bodies during the rainy season which will cause a health hazard for humans and the environment.”
About 5.67 kgs of cyanide were recovered at Munkombwa’s homestead while another 4kgs were recovered at Ncube’s homestead buried in a cattle pen