Tendai Rupapa Senior Court Reporter
Former Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority director-general Mr Edson Chidziya, accused of concealing an audit report in 2015, which exposed the theft of 56 rhino horns worth $3 million, was on Monday cleared of any wrong doing by the court.
Mr Chidziya was found not guilty and acquitted by Harare regional magistrate Mr Elijah Makomo.
Through his lawyer, Professor Lovemore Madhuku, Chidziya successfully applied for discharge at the close of the State case.
He argued that the State had failed to prove a prima-facie case against him.
The court concurred with his argument and ruled that the evidence presented by the State was not sufficient to warrant a conviction under the circumstances.
He also noted that Mr Chidziya was not the only person who had access to the audit report.
Mr Makomo in his ruling also noted that the State’s star witness was not credible.
“The State’s star witness was not credible considering that he sits on the current board, and, yet the charges relate to the previous board,” he said.
It was alleged that sometime between September 2012 and May 1, 2013, Chidziya acted as the director-general for ZimParks.
He was eventually appointed the substantive director-general and became the accounting officer, with the sole responsibility of reporting to the board.
Mr Chidziya was also responsible for the smooth running of ZimParks.
During his tenure of office, Mr Chidziya caused the breach of security procedures of game products under his care.
The court heard that between December 2012 and July 2015, Mr Chidziya gave orders to Mazoyo, Kuwora and Nhira to exchange keys to the ivory strongroom.
This was done without a proper handover and takeover procedure, by-passing the standard laid out security procedure and the actions led to 56 rhino horns being stolen, it was alleged.
The theft was discovered during an audit, which was carried out in July 2015. As the accounting officer, Mr Chidziya was handed the audit report and instead of reporting the matter to the police, he kept quiet about the issue, the State was alleging.