A 52-YEAR-OLD Bulawayo man who reportedly assisted an American dentist kill Cecil the lion has been arrested after he was implicated in a case in which three South Africans attempted to smuggle 29 sables worth $435 000 from Zimbabwe using an illegal crossing point along the Limpopo River.
The South Africans were arrested last Friday while travelling in three Toyota Land Cruisers. Chief police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba on Tuesday confirmed the arrest of Theodor Albert Christiam Bronkhorst.
“The Zimbabwe Republic Police would like to confirm the arrest of Theodor Albert Christiam Bronkhorst in Bulawayo. He is detained at Hillside Police Station,” she said.
Snr Asst Comm Charamba said Bronkhorst was facing charges under the Parks and Wildlife Act for “moving wild animals without a permit” and as an accomplice in the smuggling of wild animals.
“The ZRP will not hesitate to take action and ensure that all those who violate the Parks and Wildlife Act are brought to book,” she said.
It is understood the animals were taken from Hwange National Park and that the South Africans ran out of luck when their vehicles got stuck in the Limpopo riverbed as they attempted to leave the country.
Edwin Hewitt (49) of Westlake Estate, Hartbeesport, North West province; Henrik Johannes Blignaut (41) of Mpumalanga province and Herbert John Pretorius of Pretoria, were reportedly assisted by two unknown men from Hwange and Thembani Sibanda of Makhakavhule area in Beitbridge.
Sibanda was arrested on smuggling charges. Hewitt, Blignaut and Pretorius have been charged for smuggling, moving animals without a permit and attempting to leave Zimbabwe through an undesignated exit point.
On September 11, the trio connived to move the sables from Hwange to South Africa through an illegal crossing point along the Limpopo River.
When they got to Beitbridge, they engaged Sibanda to assist them cross back into South Africa. They proceeded to a crossing point near Nottingham Estate, 50km outside Beitbridge.
They were arrested after their vehicles got stuck in the Limpopo riverbed on the common border.