From Abel Zhakata in Mutare
Zanu-PF Nyanga North legislator Hubert Nyanhongo and his three accomplices were remanded in custody by a Chipinge magistrate on Monday on charges of possessing a pangolin, which they attempted to sell.
The quartet was charged with dealing in specially-protected animals after the live pangolin was recovered in Nyanhongo’s Jeep Cherokee Sport Utility Vehicle.
The lawmaker, who is former Deputy Minister of Energy and Power Development, and his alleged accomplices, were placed in remand prison after the lower court advised them to apply for bail at the High Court since they were facing a Third Schedule offence.
Nyanhongo (60) was on Saturday arrested by officials from the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority at Birchenough following a tip-off by a Save Conservancy worker who disguised himself as a potential buyer of the endangered animal.
The suspects, who included Samuel Samson (42), Misheck Satuku (47) and Positive Mutenda (29), appeared before Mr Noah Gwatidzo on Monday and were remanded in custody to April 20.
They were charged with contravening Section 45 (1) of the Parks and Wildlife Act (Chapter 20:14) as read with Section 128 of General Amendment No. 5.
Public prosecutor Mr Last Goredema told the court that on April 1 at around 4:45pm, the Save Conservancy worker, Samuel Gona, phoned Samson, who is the MP’s driver that they should meet at Birchenough Bridge.
“Upon arrival at Birchenough Bridge, the four accused persons who were driving a Jeep Cherokee (AEC4769) picked up Gona and drove away from the business centre,” said Mr Goredema. “After negotiations, Gona agreed to buy the pangolin for $5 000.”
After agreeing on the price, Gona told the suspects that he did not have the cash on him and asked them to drive back to the business centre to pick up the money.
They then drove to the business centre intending to collect the money, but Gona led them straight into the hands of Parks and Wildlife rangers.
Following their arrest, a search was conducted in the vehicle and the live pangolin was recovered in a sack on the back seat.
One of the suspects, only identified as Kapenzi, bolted from the scene and is yet to be accounted for.
The suspects were taken to Birchenough Bridge Police Post.