via Cecil has ruined my family, Zim hunter – New Zimbabwe 15/10/2015
THE local hunter accused of failing to stop the killing of Cecil the lion said Thursday that his family and business had been destroyed amid the outcry which followed the lion’s death and that charges against him should be dropped.
Government said on Monday it would not charge American dentist Walter Palmer, who killed its most prized lion with a bow and arrow in July, because he had obtained legal authority to conduct the hunt.
Theo Bronkhorst is accused of failing to stop an illegal hunt when he helped Palmer kill Cecil, a rare black-maned lion, in a case that caused international outrage and put the spotlight on big game hunting in Africa.
The national parks agency said in July that Bronkhorst could not work as a professional hunter, after cancelling his licence.
“It’s destroyed us, it has destroyed the family, our business,” Bronkhorst told journalists, holding back tears outside the Hwange magistrates court in western Zimbabwe.
Asked whether he believed he was innocent, Bronkhorst said: “Absolutely. I believe our permits were in order … and I still think we are gonna be vindicated.”
Bronkhorst’s lawyer Givemore Muvhiringi told Reuters that the state decides whom it wants to prosecute, but that it did not make sense not to charge Palmer but continue to pursue Bronkhorst.
He said Bronkhorst’s charges should be dropped.
“It’s a contradiction,” Muvhiringi told Reuters.
“Now they have gone on to say Palmer’s hunt was lawful after all, so it means that there was nothing that Bronkhorst was supposed to stop and failed to stop.”
On Thursday, the magistrates court in Hwange postponed Bronkhorst’s case for the third time, to October 20, to allow it time to study submissions by the prosecution and defence regarding Bronkhorst’s application to quash his indictment.
The prosecutor also failed to turn up for the hearing.
“The matter has been postponed to October 20. The prosecutor is not feeling well,” said magistrate Dambudzo Malunga.
Bronkhorst has applied to have the case thrown out of court.
He reiterated that his papers were in order and said he was optimistic he would be acquitted.
The parks agency has said prosecutors plan to present 13-year-old Cecil’s head in court as evidence.
The head was discovered by the police in Bulawayo where it was undergoing preservation before being shipped to Palmer in the United States.
Bronkhorst denied that the hunting party had used bait to lure Cecil, who was fitted with a GPS collar for a research project by scientists from Oxford University, outside the Hwange National Park before shooting him.
“Absolute nonsense, the animal was already on an elephant carcass. We didn’t even have to lure him, he was there. He was already on an elephant carcass that was lying there,” he said.
Bronkhorst said collared lions were shot in Zimbabwe every year, adding that five such big cats had been killed in 2015.
Cecil’s killing provoked worldwide outrage and Palmer, a dentist from Minnesota, was hounded on social media over the killing and went into hiding after demonstrations outside his dental practice.
He apologised for killing Cecil, a 13-year-old male renowned for his distinctive black mane, and appeared to blame Bronkhorst for misleading him.