By Matabeleland North Correspondent
HWANGE: A local man here, who was found with a wild cat, dried meat and skins including a buffalo tail, escaped jail for poaching after he told court a spirit medium told him to collect the skins from the bush for ritual purposes.
Mabulo Mathias Nyathi (52) of Madumabisa, just outside Hwange town, was charged with removing an endangered animal or any part of an animal from one place when he appeared before Hwange magistrate Rangarirai Gakanje.
He was also charged with an additional crime of unlawful possession of dagga after police found two rolls of the illicit drug in his bedroom.
“I had a vision and there was a spirit that told me to collect skins so that life could get better for me and my family,” Nyathi told court.
Magistrate Gakanje convicted Nyathi and slapped him with 12 months imprisonment before suspending four months on condition of good behaviour on the first charge.
The remaining eight months were also suspended on condition he performed 280 hours of community service at Madumabisa police base. On the charge of possessing dagga, Nyathi was sentenced to six months in jail which were wholly suspended for five years.
Prosecutor Jamesina Makanza told the court police officers who were on patrol got a tip-off that Nyathi was selling wild animal skins and proceeded to his homestead for a search.
“On the 23rd of December at around 1 pm detectives who were on patrol received a tip-off that Nyathi was in possession of some wild animal skins which he was selling.
“They proceeded to the homestead and asked to search the house and the accused consented. Police found a serval wild cat skin, dried meat and a buffalo tail inside his bedroom. They also found two rolls of mbanje weighing 60 grammes on a sofa in the bedroom,” said Makanza.
Nyathi was arrested after he failed to produce a permit allowing him to hunt or keep animal products.
The total value of the recovered products was $838 300.