Chief Court reporter
Government will institute investigations into the shooting incident that claimed the lives of two Italian men Claudio Chairelli and his son Massimillian during an anti-poaching operation in the Mana Pools game park at the weekend.
In a tragic case of mistaken identity, two Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authority rangers shot and killed the two Italians who had offered their colleagues a ride.
In a statement yesterday, Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Dr Christopher Mushohwe, said Government deeply regretted the death of the duo who were also members of the Zambezi Society.
He said the two men were long time hunters who had chosen to live in the country, voluntarily dedicating their lives towards the sustainable conservation of the national wildlife resources.
“Indeed they met their fate in the course of volunteering such a service to a deploying unit of our rangers,” said Minister Mushohwe.
“Government expresses its deepest condolences to the family and friends of the departed and to the Italian government which has lost two of its nationals on our soil.”
The Zimbabwean people and wildlife industry in particular, said Minister Mushohwe, had accepted the two as part of “our communities”, fully appreciating their will to participate in wildlife conservation on a voluntary basis.
“Government of Zimbabwe will institute full investigation into the incident,” he said.
“Above all, Government will continue to intensify operations to protect the country’s fauna, this as a lasting tribute to the two great men who had put in twenty years of diligent work towards the protection of our wildlife.”
The rangers reportedly mistook the two for poachers and opened fire, killing them on the spot near the Nyakasikana Gate in the Marongora area.
Police arrested two of the rangers who are now assisting with investigations and they are likely to be charged with culpable homicide.
Tragedy struck on Sunday at around 2pm during an anti-poaching operation involving parks game rangers, when a relief team was mistaken for poachers.
Chiarelli (66) and his son Massimillian (29) offered rangers a ride who were going to relieve other rangers on patrol.
The first team had been trekking footprints of suspected poachers and had signalled for a relief team from their base.
The relief team was offered a ride by the Chiarellis who run Buzz Tour Operating company in the Marongora area.
The rangers had earlier come across a place where the suspected poachers had been preparing food and left. They followed their footprints which led them to an area near Nyakasikana Gate where they heard some voices and started firing randomly.
The gunshots resulted in the death of the father and son on the spot.
An official from the Italian embassy, who preferred anonymity, said the deceased were reportedly from Padua, and had lived and done business in Zimbabwe since 1982.
The bodies of the deceased were taken to Karoi District Hospital for post-mortems, while the matter was reported at Chirundu Police Station.