Monday, 20 August 2018

HUNTER CHALLENGES CONVICTION

PROFESSIONAL hunter Theodore Christian Bronkhorst (55) has approached the High Court challenging his conviction and sentence in connection with the smuggling of 29 sables worth $435 000 to South Africa through an illegal exit point along the Limpopo River.

Bronkhorst made headlines in 2015 after he organised an illegal hunt which ended the life of the once famous lion, Cecil.  Later, he connived with three South African nationals, Edwin Hewitt (52) Hedrick Blignaut (44) and John Herbert Pretorius (52) to smuggle 29 sables into the neighbouring country.

The three South Africans were convicted and each sentenced to four years in jail or a fine of $2 600. Bronkhorst was convicted by Gwanda provincial magistrate Mr Willard Maphios Moyo for smuggling and unlawful movement of animals. He was fined $2 300 or three years imprisonment.
Bronkhorst, through his lawyers Dube and Company, filed an application at the Bulawayo High Court citing the State as the respondent. He wants an order setting aside both his conviction and sentence.

In his grounds of appeal, Bronkhorst argued that the magistrate erred in convicting him without direct evidence.

“The learned court a quo erred in rejecting the defence’s version and evidence without giving adequate reasons. All the evidence presented was circumstantial and the learned magistrate erred and materially misdirected himself in failing to apply the relevant legal tests to such evidence,” said Bronkhorst through his lawyers.

He said the conclusion by the magistrate that the permit issued to enable him to move 10 sables for breeding and also used to transport the 29 sables, was a fundamental error.
The State, which was represented by Mrs Sifiso Ndlovu-Sibanda opposed bail, arguing that Bronkhorst was fully involved in the conspiracy to smuggle the sables to South Africa. She said the hunter imported 50 sables from Zambia on July 13 and unlawfully moved 29 of them to Beitbridge to people whom he knew were foreigners and had no property in the said area to keep the animals.

According to court papers, on July 13 in 2015, Bronkhorst imported 50 sables from Zambia.
He then bred them at Msuna ranch, trading as Bushman Safaris in Hwange.

Two months later, Bronkhorst connived with Hewitt, Pretorius and Blignaut to smuggle the animals into South Africa through an illegal exit point along the Limpopo River.
Bronkhorst obtained an animal movement permit from the veterinary offices in Hwange after misrepresenting that the sables were being moved to West Nicholson.On the strength of the permit, the three South Africans moved the animals to Beitbridge where they then hired one Thembani Sibanda of Makakavhule village in Beitbridge to assist them to skip the border via the Limpopo River.

They then went to an illegal crossing point near Nottingham Estate, but their convoy of three vehicles got stuck in the riverbed.The South Africans were arrested by security personnel on patrol and revealed during interrogations that they had been assisted by Bronkhorst and Sibanda to smuggle the animals out of the country.

Bronkhorst and Sibanda were arrested a few days later. Chronicle

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