A ZAMBIAN poacher has been slapped with a 12-month jail term for illegal possession of firearms and dagga and entering the Zimbabwean border side without valid travel documents.
By Nokuthaba Dlamini
Malasa Mandaya (35) was yesterday sentenced on his own plea of guilty to the charges when he appeared before Victoria Falls magistrate Lindiwe Maphosa.
Prosecutor Takunda Ndovorwi said Mandaya and five accomplices, who are still at large, were spotted by Jambezi villagers moving around the area carrying firearms.
On February 6, police laid an ambush at night and fired warning shots, but the group shot back and later fled.
Police gave chase and apprehended Mandaya, who was found in possession of 25 rounds of ammunition, two axes and butchers’ knives and 2kg of dagga.
In mitigation, Mandaya said he had been kidnapped by the group and forced to cross into Zimbabwe.
“I was fishing at the river when they hijacked me. We crossed, but I did not know where we were. They were five and they all managed to escape when police came. I did not understand what was happening because suddenly there was exchange of firearms then everyone disappeared leaving me with firearms and their dagga. I am a family man and my children are still young,” he said in mitigation.
However, the magistrate said he will serve one year in jail before deported.
Meanwhile, police said they were considering pauper’s burials for two suspected Zambian poachers whose bodies were found floating in the Zambezi River on February 15 this year.
Officer Commanding Victoria Falls Police Superintendent Jairos Chiwona, said no-one had come to claim the bodies.
“We are still carrying out some investigations together with our Zambian counterparts,” Chiwona said when asked about progress in identifying the bodies.
“The bodies found floating on the Zambezi River near Jambesi have not yet been identified up to today because of their state while the other one was taken back to Zambia last week.”