FIVE men, suspected to be illegal dealers in ivory, were last week arraigned before the courts after being found with one tusk weighing 9kg.
Munyaradzi Nhananga (26), Freedom Mandundu (26), Ignatius Msipha (22) and Francis Simbarashe Nyandoro (28), who were arrested while attempting to sell the elephant tusk, pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of raw ivory, when they appeared before magistrate Sharon Rosemani.
The fifth accused, Busani Nyoni (34) of 6669 Mkhosana, appeared separately charged with illegal dealing in ivory as he claimed he was the one who found the tusk in a bush and sold it to the other four.
Prosecutor Listen Nare told the court that on January 27 police officers received a tip-off that the accused were on their way to Kingdom Hotel with an elephant tusk, which they intended to sell to an unknown buyer.
Detectives proceeded to the hotel and intercepted the accused persons at the car park.
After having asked the driver to open the car boot, the police officers found one elephant tusk weighing 9,34kg and a digital scale hidden in the boot and arrested them, before they implicated Nyoni.
The court heard that on an unknown date, Nyoni was fetching firewood in a bush near Mkhosana Township when he allegedly picked up an elephant tusk which he kept and later sold to Nhananga and Mandundu for P1 000 and $15.
The accused persons, who are all unemployed and residing in the resort town, were remanded in custody to today.
Poaching has been a cause for concern in Hwange district, with police and parks rangers recovering 37 tusks weighing 680kg and valued at $200 000 following a shoot-out with suspected Zambian poachers.
More than 100 elephants were killed through cyanide poisoning in the Hwange National Park in the past two years, with a number of villagers being taken to court.