Leonard Ncube Victoria Falls Reporter
AN illegal ivory dealer who sold an elephant tusk to four men in Victoria Falls was yesterday sentenced to an effective nine years in jail.
Resident magistrate, Sharon Rosemani, convicted Busani Nyoni, 34, of Mkhosana Township, of illegal dealing in ivory after a full trial that ended on Friday.
Nyoni, a father of one, had pleaded not guilty to the charge.
His co-accused, Freedom Mandundu, Munyaradzi Nhanhanga, Francis Simbarashe Nyandoro and Ignatius Msipha, who were being charged separately, will know their fate on Friday when Rosemani is expected to pass judgment.
Rosemani said there was overwhelming evidence against Nyoni.
She said there were no special circumstances in Nyoni’s case while at the same time he failed to dispute evidence presented by a Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority ranger, Ernest Sidlodlo Sibanda.
Rosemani said Nyoni’s claims that he phoned his friends after seeing the tusk raised eyebrows on his intentions when he could have phoned the rangers or police, if he had a genuine motive.
In his defence, Nyoni told the court that he initially admitted to the charge because he had been assaulted by police investigators, an argument disputed by the magistrate who said there was no proof since he told no one and had no medical report to present in court.
The investigating officer, Constable Jairos Dzwimbo of the Minerals and Border Control Unit, testified that the other four accused Mandundu, Nhanhanga, Msipha and Nyandoro, whose inyanga mother caused a stir at court during trial, implicated Nyoni who also admitted to selling the tusk for 1,000 pula and $15.
It is the State’s case that on January 27, police officers received a tip-off that the accused were on their way to Kingdom Hotel with an elephant tusk which they intended to sell to an unknown buyer.
Detectives then proceeded to the hotel and intercepted the five accused persons in the car park.
After having asked the driver to open the car boot, the police officers found one elephant tusk weighing 9,34kg and a digital scale hidden in the boot and arrested them before they implicated Nyoni.
Takunda Ndovorwi appeared for the State.