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Ex-Zanu PF Victoria Falls Mayor arrested for poaching

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By Matabeleland North Correspondent

EX-VICTORIA Falls Mayor Sifiso Mpofu, will Saturday appear in court on allegations of illegal possession of raw ivory weighing 120kg, following his arrest Thursday night.

Acting on a tip-off, police and Zimbabwe National Parks (ZimParks) rangers cornered Mpofu (42), Milton Sibindi (47) and Phathiso Sibanda (49) at the former councilor’s house and arrested them.

Nine elephant tusks were recovered, some in a car which they were offloading and two others in Mpofu’s bedroom, police documents show.

A rifle with three rounds of ammunition was also recovered.

Mpofu, a Zanu PF member, left the mayoral office last year after losing the July harmonised election, operates a hunting safari business in Hwange National Park.

The three stand accused of violating a section of the Parks and Wildlife Act which prohibits unlawful possession of elephant tusks.

They were still in police cells Friday evening.

Sources close to the investigations said an anti-poaching team of police and rangers planned the ambush in the evening after being tipped of the raw ivory by an informer.

“Police received information that the trio were in possession of raw ivory. At around 10pm the team proceeded to where the informer was and followed at a distance to Mpofu’s house. The team split into two and pounced on the unsuspecting trio from different directions,” said a police source.          

Police also seized an Astra Falcon, calibre 32 pistol with three rounds of ammunition from Mpofu.

Two months ago, seven Chinese nationals were arrested in Victoria Falls for possessing rhino horn pieces weighing more than 20kgs and valued at close to US$1 million.

They were charged with illegal possession of ivory and money laundering. The seven are still holed up in the resort town where their trial is underway.

Poaching has become rampant with foreigners at the heart of various syndicates ravaging Zimbabwe’s wildlife sector.