Fungai Lupande Senior Court Reporter
A police officer attached to the Mineral and Border Control Unit provincial headquarters allegedly negotiated for a bribe with his colleagues on behalf of the owner of a 200kg consignment of ivory that was intercepted recently while being smuggled to Malaysia.
Benson Mutara (44) told his colleagues that the owner of the contraband was a Chinese man, but refused to name him.
The court heard that the pieces of ivory disguised as ceramic tiles were intercepted at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in Harare while being smuggled to Kuala Lumpur.
Mutara appeared before Harare magistrate Ms Rumbidzai Mugwagwa last week, charged with attempting to defeat the course of justice.
He was remanded to January 16 on $200 bail. The prosecutor, Mr Sebastian Mutizirwa, alleges that on December 9, detectives from the Mineral and Border Control Unit intercepted pieces of ivory at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport.
The owner of the consignment disappeared upon realising that it had been seized. The following day, Mutara allegedly phoned the investigating officer in the case, Tawanda Chakona, telling him that the owner of the consignment, a Chinese man, wanted to pay a bribe for the release of the seized ivory.
Chakona allegedly invited Mutara and the owner of the consignment to his office at the airport.
It is alleged that Mutara went to the office alone and indicated that the Chinese man was afraid and had sent him to negotiate on his behalf.
The court heard that Mutara tried to convince Chakona, who insisted on seeing the owner of the ivory first.
Mutara left and promised to bring the Chinese man with him.
It is alleged that he phoned Chakona later advising him that the Chinese had refused to see him.
Mutara never returned. The pieces of ivory are worth $50 000.