Suspected poaching ringleader freed

Fungai Lupande Court Reporter
HARARE businessman George Seremwe, suspected to be the ringleader of a poaching syndicate, appeared in court on Friday.

Seremwe was released after the court established that he was over detained.

Harare magistrate Mr Elijah Makomo refused to place Seremwe on remand because he was brought to court after the stipulated 48 hours had elapsed. Seremwe (44) of Orchard Close in Avondale, Harare, is accused of smuggling to Asia six ivory tusks stolen from Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.

His lawyers Mr Admire Rubaya and Mr Oliver Marwa opposed his placement on remand arguing that the police had infringed on his Constitutional right to be brought to court within 48 hours. The State now has to proceed by way of summons should it wish to try him on the charges of fraud.

The complainant in the matter is Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority represented by its area manager Mr Chamunorwa Mashange. The court heard that Seremwe runs Nzou Safaris in Muzarabani in partnership with Muzarabani Rural District Council.

It is alleged that Seremwe connived with Nesbert Mukora, who is a trophy dealer, professional hunters Joseph Chitambwa and James Mackenzie and Shepherd Gushe, a senior ranger at Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority based at National Parks headquarters.

The four acquired six elephant tusks whose origins are yet to be established.

Mukora, who allegedly had wide knowledge in the ivory industry, brought two Chinese – Cong Yuling and Dong Anmin – after they indicated that they had a hunting quota.

Seremwe charged the Chinese $45 000 and a deposit of $30 000 was paid to him. It is alleged that Seremwe contracted Mackenzie and Chitambwa. The pair killed three elephants and removed their tusks. On June 10 last year Seremwe allegedly registered two elephant tusks in Dong’s name. It is alleged that the registration was not done procedurally by Gushe.

Seremwe was paid $60 000 by the Chinese and to cover his tracks he applied for a hunting permit from Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority to hunt two elephants. Acting on the misrepresentation, Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority facilitated the export of the six elephant tusks.

Investigations revealed that Seremwe never hunted an elephant since the inception of his partnership with Muzarabani Rural District Council on January 1, 2011.

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