Wednesday, 18 December 2019

PANGOLIN N'ANGA BAIL APPLICATION DISMISSED


THE High Court has dismissed an application for bail pending appeal by a polygamous inyanga from Binga who is serving four years in jail for possession of pangolin and python skins valued at US$13 000.

Jerry Mwembe (44) of Kabula area in Lusulu was arrested after an anti-poaching team comprising rangers from Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and detectives from the CID Minerals Flora and Fauna Unit got a tip-off that he was in possession of python skins.

Two pangolin skins were recovered from a vehicle while the python skins were recovered after a search at Mwembe’s homestead. 

Mwembe was convicted by Binga magistrate Mr Livard Philemon of two counts of illegal possession of specially protected animal trophy (pangolin and python skins) in violation of the Parks and Wildlife Act. He was sentenced to an effective four years in jail.

In dismissing the application, Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Nokuthula Moyo ruled that it lacked prospects of success on appeal.

Justice Moyo’s ruling follows the application by Mwembe, through his lawyer Mr Thulani Nkala of Dube, Nkala and Company, seeking bail pending appeal, citing the State as a respondent.

“The application for bail pending appeal is hereby dismissed for lack of prospects of success on appeal,” ruled the judge.



In his bail statement, Mwembe is denying the charge, arguing that the magistrate misdirected himself by finding that the State managed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt when there was no evidence to support his conviction.

“The magistrate misdirected himself by dismissing the version of the accused person when there was no rational basis to do so. The magistrate’s judgment is not informed by evidence in the record,” said Mr Nkala

Mwembe’s lawyer said the magistrate erred when he failed to consider an alternative and appropriate sentence for his client to meet the justice of the case.

“The magistrate erred by sentencing the accused person where there is no legal basis,” said Mr Nkala.

He said his client is a sole breadwinner with four wives and 18 children, 15 of whom were minors hence if released on bail he would be able to take care of them.

“The applicant is of fixed abode and makes a living through providing healing services to the community as a traditional healer. He is a breadwinner to 18 dependents that look up to him for basic amenities, which therefore makes him unlikely to abscond if released on bail,” said Mr Nkala.



Mwembe argued that his appeal had prospects of success hence his release on bail would not compromise the administration of justice.

As part of his bail conditions, he had offered to pay $500 as security deposit, to reside at his given address and report once a week at Lusulu Police Station until the appeal is finalised.

The State, which is being represented by Mr Trust Muduma, opposed the application, arguing that the applicant was likely to abscond if released on bail because the appeal had no prospects of success.

According to court papers on April 4 this year at around 8.45PM, Zimparks rangers and detectives from the CID Minerals Flora and Fauna Unit who were on patrol received information that there was a parked Pajero at Mswazi turn-off with two pangolin skins inside.

The team then drove to the site and upon arrival introduced themselves to Mwembe who immediately ran away from the scene.

It was stated that Zimparks ranger Mr Trust Mudimba gave chase and fired three warning shots in the air and Mwembe stopped.

He was escorted back to his vehicle where a search was conducted leading to the recovery of two pangolin skins on the front passenger seat. A further search at his homestead led to recovery of two python skins from one of the bedroom huts.

The pangolin skins are valued at US$10 000 while the python skins are valued at US$3 000. Chronicle

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