Martha Leboho Masvingo Correspondent
Seven suspected poachers who shot and wounded a rhino in the Save Valley Conservancy were recently sent to remand prison after the court threw out their application for refusal of further remand.

They are expected to appear in court on January 9.

Defence counsel Mr Phillip Shumba of Shumba and Mutendi Legal Practitioners unsuccessfully pleaded with the court to have his clients remanded out of custody.

He argued that there was no link between his clients and the offence.

Masvingo Magistrate Mr Takawira Mugabe had on December 21 dismissed the initial application when the court sat for the initial remand hearing.

Mr Shumba had argued that his clients were illegally arrested and were not given food.

“My clients were illegally arrested and they were beaten up by the police, and they did not give them food,” he said. “So, I request that they should not be remanded in custody.”

Prosecutor Mr Fidelis Nyamukondiwa argued that the Constitution stated that minimum force could be used if one resisted arrest. He said the suspects had food when they were apprehended.

Masvingo provincial magistrate Mr Langton Ndokera dismissed the alleged rhino poachers’ application for refusal of remand when they returned to court last week.

He said there was overwhelming evidence against the gang and the likely penalty of the offence was a nine-year mandatory sentence. He said the suspects could also skip the country’s borders if remanded out of custody.

According to the State, on December 8 last year, Godfrey Makechenu (47) of Gokwe, Joel Matuku (42) of Harare, Ignatious Maiga (30) of Gokwe, Farai Chauno (27) of Bikita, James Makumba (33) of Harare, Jevas Mauto (31) of Zaka and Calesto Shate (35) of Kwekwe hatched a plan to hunt and kill rhinos at the Save Valley Conservancy.

The gang proceeded to the Conservancy using a Toyota Fortuner with an unmarked 404 riffle fitted with a telescopic device and a silencer, 12 rounds of ammunition, an axe and bags of food.

While they were about 6 kilometres in Savuli Ranch, they spotted a black male rhino and shot it on the shoulder.

The rhino escaped while bleeding heavily.

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