Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
The four people who were recently arrested in connection with suspected rhino poaching in Matopo National Park have been cleared of any wrongdoing by a Kezi magistrate for lack of evidence.
The four suspects include Munyaradzi Mwonzora, young brother to MDC T secretary-general, Mr Douglas Mwonzora.
Others are Clement Mazhandu (39), Shadreck Kuvarega (39) and Brighton Nkosilathi Nyathi (26).
MDC T legislator for Tsholotsho (proportional representation) Ms Lwazi Sibanda was also questioned and released by the police in connection with the matter.
The suspects’ lawyer Mr Kholwani Ngwenya said yesterday that the presiding magistrate Mr Jimmy Ntonga had cleared the four of the charges after the state failed to prove prima facie evidence against his clients.
“My clients were discharged after the state failed to state failed to establish a prima facie case that they trespassed. The four were arrested on their way to Gulaki area where Munyaradzi Mwonzora wanted to buy a car,” he said.
The quartet was arrested by rangers in the park on 6 January who then handed them over to the police.
They were arrested after they were suspected of tracking a rhinoceros spoor in the park.
Ms Sibanda, who had earlier on been spotted in the same park allegedly conducting surveillance prior to the arrival of Mwonzora and his accomplices, was interrogated by detectives at Hillside Police Station in Bulawayo and released without a charge following her visit to Mwonzora soon after his arrest in Matopo.
Mr Ngwenya said the four men saw some wild beasts on their way to Gulaki and they then trekked them when one of them said he was seeing the animals for the first time in his life.
He said they followed a path unaware that they were following a rhino spoor and they were intercepted by rangers.
“At some point which they had passed, there were prints of the butt of the gun which made the rangers believe that the group was on a poaching mission,” he said.
The police also searched Ms Sibanda’s vehicle on suspicion that she was hiding the firearm, which the suspects intended to use for poaching.
They, however, could not find the fire arm.