Ivory saga: Grace Mugabe ‘runners’ seek acquittal

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By Court Reporter

TWO suspected ivory poaching kingpins, charged for allegedly working under the instructions of former First Lady Grace Mugabe to commit the offence, are now demanding their freedom arguing that their right to a timely trial had been violated by the state.

They are Fanken Madzinga (48), a registered dealer of ivory manufacturing and his driver Tafadzwa Pamire. They are answering to charges of contravening the Parks and Wildlife Act.

The trial failed to kick off several times and at one time prosecutors told court that the exhibits were locked up adding that the person who kept the keys was not available.

In addition, the state has also not availed documents requested by the pair’s defence in what further stalled progress of the trial.

However Grace’s name was never mentioned in court papers despite the fact that the whistle blower revealed that his findings were that she was the boss in the matter.

Madzinga and his drivers, through their lawyers, asked the two for several documents they require in crafting their defence.

These include the informant’s work permit and telephone printouts among other documents.

The informant is a Polish photo journalist who was doing an investigative story which he picked in China.

Madzinga and his accomplice were arrested after the police received a tip-off to the effect that the two were part of ivory poaching syndicate.

The journalist then posed as a buyer, gathering the information which he used to nail them.

Earlier reports said the two disclosed that former First Lady, Grace Mugabe was part of the syndicate after they were convinced the informer would buy lots of ivory from them.

According to the papers, the tip-off was received on February 14 this year.

Court heard the informer told the police that he had managed to entice the two to sell him the ivory after posing as a potential buyer.

He told the police that he was going to meet the suspects in the Harare city centre for purposes of making transactions.

A team of detectives was then set up in order to arrest the two.

It is alleged a trap was set and the two were arrested in Highfields suburb where they were caught transferring ivory from their vehicle to the journalist’s car.

According to court papers, the ivory is valued at $22 797.

The case will be back in court on Thursday for ruling on the application.