Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
SADC has been urged to harmonise laws to fight wildlife crimes to successfully eradicate poaching in the region.
Speaking during the launch of the Zimbabwe’s Rapid Response Guide (RRG) toolkit on wildlife crimes at Matopo National Park on Tuesday, the acting deputy Prosecutor General, Mr Innocent Mutsonziwa, said while the country has stiffer penalties against poaching, this is not the case in some regional countries which promotes poaching even in Zimbabwe.
Speak Out for Animals, an organisation led by Mrs Ever Chinoda, brought together police, prosecutors and magistrates to come up with the toolkit.
“But sometimes we face a challenge where our neighbouring countries have lesser sentences. That is an area of debate as poachers prefer to come into Zimbabwe and escape into those countries where sentences are very lenient. That becomes a breeding ground for poachers. A country with very lenient sentences becomes a breeding ground for poachers as they cross to where there are these animals and do their work and escape back to those countries (with lenient sentences),” he said.
“We can have SADC uniform sentences that will go a long way in dealing with the scourge of poaching. At the moment we still have some countries with very lenient sentences. Maybe it’s because they don’t have those animals but the uniform approach would help.”
Mr Mutsonziwa said while communities near national parks may view wildlife in terms of relish, they need to be educated on wildlife’s economic value to the nation.
He also said there must be professionalism among prosecutors as their duty is to ensure that justice prevails over just winning cases.
“I wish to say that prosecutors are ministers of justice and we are gate keepers to access to justice. What goes into court is determined by us, what the police give us is our stock in trade, the crime dockets. And we are responsible for making sure a good case is presented in court,” Mr Mutsonziwa said.
“What the courts expect from us is the truth nothing else but the truth. This is about prosecution, it’s not about winning the case but is about ensuring that justice is done in that court. That is our responsibility as ministers of justice and as gate keepers to justice.” — @nqotshili