HARARE – Four men from Harare who were busted in a sting operation by undercover detectives for peddling ivory illegally have been sentenced to 9 years’ imprisonment.
Tinashe Fifitini, 28, Joseph Tondoro, 43, Kilford Mutandi, 30, and Chamunorwa Mavhunga, 26, were convicted against their pleas after arguing that they were arrested while seeking the service of a traditional healer.
After a full trial, magistrate Babra Mateko agreed with prosecutors that the State had made an iron-clad case against the defendants who were charged with unlawful possession of raw ivory.
The court heard that on September 24 last year at around 11AM, detectives received information that the four were in possession of ivory and were looking for potential buyers.
A detective Banhu then called Fifitini on his mobile purporting to be a buyer, leading to the two making an arrangement to meet at David Livingston School along Livingston Road in the capital.
The two then drove to the Harare Post Office where they picked up Mavhunga, who was said to be the link to the person who was in possession of the ivory in Budiriro.
Upon arrival in Budiriro, the court was told, Mavhunga then went into a house where he brought Mutandi and Tondoro with the illicit merchandise in a bag.
As they were about to transact – or so they thought – the four were quickly rounded up and taken into custody by undercover detectives who had been following proceedings closely while driving behind.
The value of the ivory was not disclosed.
Four other suspected illegal ivory traders appeared before the same magistrate last week after they were arrested in similar fashion.
Luckmore Mugobeya, Pearson Chinokoro, Tafadzwa Mkoka – all aged 25 – and Benias Sambo, 27, were arrested following a tip-off, leading to the recovery of US$606 worth of ivory weighing 3,57 kg. ■