Zanu PF staffer, traditional healer jailed 9 years over pangolin scales

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HWANGE: A senior Zanu PF administrator for Matabeleland North, John Robert Khumalo (65) and an accomplice, who were arrested for possessing pangolin scales, have been sentenced to a mandatory nine years in jail.

Khumalo and Sithembiso Tshuma (42) of Hwange were arrested in June this year and charged with illegal possession of a pangolin.

A pangolin is a protected species whose possession warrants a criminal offence under Zimbabwean laws.

Khumalo and Tshuma, a traditional healer, pleaded not guilty when they both appeared before Hwange magistrate-in-charge Livard Philimon.

They were convicted on Tuesday after full trial.

During trial, the duo claimed that it wanted to use the scales for medicinal purposes although it was arrested while looking for a buyer at a local hotel in Hwange.

Prosecuting, Memory Munsaka said police swooped on the duo after receiving a tip-off that they were in possession of a pangolin and were looking for a buyer.

“Police proceeded to the hotel and found the duo sitting in a car at the car park. The police asked to search the car and recovered a plastic bag which had the scales in the boot of the vehicle,” said the prosecutor.

Khumalo and Tshuma were arrested after failing to produce legal documents allowing them to possess specially protected animals in terms of the Parks and Wildlife Act.

The duo could not account for the scales which are used as traditional medicine.

A live pangolin is valued at $5 000 although the value of the scales is not known.