Man claims hunger drove him into poaching

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By Matabeleland North Correspondent

A Jambezi man who was arrested for setting 23 wire snares in the Hwange National Park has told the court that he was driven by hunger to commit the offence as his family is starving.

Smart Ncube, aged 49, who resides in Chikandakubi village outside Victoria Falls town, was arrested on November 11 in Matetsi where he had gone to monitor his snares, about 60km from his village.

He pleaded guilty to trapping wild animals and possessing Class One wire snares when he appeared before Victoria Falls Magistrate Rangarirai Gakanje.

“I admit to the charge but may the court have mercy on me as I was only trying to get some food for my children. I also have orphaned nieces and nephews that I am taking care of who lost their parents. We are starving, we have no food at home and my only hope was catch some animals and provide for them,” he said.

The magistrate sentenced him to 12 months in prison and suspended three months on condition of good behaviour.

The remaining nine months were also suspended on condition that he performs 315 hours of unpaid work at Chikandakubi Primary School.

Prosecutor Sithabile Daka said Ncube had caught an impala when he was arrested by rangers and police on patrol.

“Police officers and Zimparks rangers on patrol met Ncube who was carrying a sack. They searched and found an impala carcass which he said he had caught with a wire snare,” said the prosecutor.

Twenty three wire snares were recovered from Ncube.