MP Nyanhongo in court over possession of pangolin

Abel Zhakata and Luthando Mapepa       
NYANGA North legislator, Hubert Nyanhongo and three other accomplices were on Monday hauled before a Chipinge magistrate on allegations of dealing in specially protected animals after he was found in possessing of a live pangolin in his Jeep Cherokee.

The lawmaker and his alleged accomplices were remanded in custody and were advised to apply for bail at the High Court since they are facing a Third Schedule offence.

Nyanhongo (60) was last Saturday arrested by officials from the Department of Parks and Wildlife at Birchenough Bridge following a tip-off by a Save Conservancy employee 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 Chipinge senior magistrate, Mr Noah Gwatidzo 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 Number 5.

Public prosecutor, Mr Last Goredema, told the court that on April 1 at around 4.45pm, a Save Conservancy employee, Samuel Gona, phoned Samson, who is the Nyanhongo’s driver and told him that they should meet at Birchenough Bridge.

“Upon arrival at Birchenough Bridge, the four accused persons who were driving a Jeep Cherokee (AEC 4769) picked Gona and drove away from the business centre. After negotiations, Gona agreed to buy the pangolin for $5 000,” said Mr Goredema.

After agreeing on the price, Gona told the suspects that he did not have the cash with him. He told them to drive back to the business centre to pick up the money.

They then drove to the business centre intending to collect money, but the informant led them straight into the hands of the Parks and Wildlife rangers.

Following their arrest, a search was conducted in the vehicle and the live pangolin was recovered on the back seat in a sack. However, one of the suspects, only identified as Kapenzi, bolted from the scene.

The suspects were taken to Birchenough Bridge Police Post.