By Matabeleland North Correspondent
HWANGE: A magistrate here has sentenced Hwange Football Club player Craven Banda to a mandatory nine years in jail for possessing eight pieces of raw ivory without a permit.
Banda (35) and a key player for Hwange in the yesteryears, had pleaded not guilty to contravening the Parks and Wildlife Act, which criminalises acquiring, possessing, or transferring unregistered raw ivory without a permit.
However, Magistrate Sekai Chiundura convicted him and sentenced him to nine years, which is mandatory for poaching crimes.
Banda who was also employed by Hwange Colliery Company which owns the soccer club claimed the bag which Zimparks rangers reportedly found him carrying was left by some people who ran away when they saw the Zimparks car approaching.
Rangers had received a tip-off that Banda was carrying a bag with eight tusks in Hwange’s Makwika village.
Rangers and the police proceeded to the area and found Banda sitting at a bus stop with the bag as he was believed to be waiting for a buyer.
Prosecutor John Mutyakaviri said Banda could not produce a permit allowing him to possess ivory when police asked for one.
“On 24 May Zimparks rangers received information that there was a person with a bag containing ivory in Makwika in Hwange. They teamed up with police and proceeded to the area where they found him sitting alone on the bus stop bench with a blue bag on his laps,” said the prosecutor.
He said police and rangers requested to search the bag and inside were eight tusks weighing 9kg.
Banda was arrested when he failed to produce a permit.