A PROMINENT farmer who, in February this year, pledged to donate wild animals towards President Robert Mugabe’s birthday bash, has appeared in court for allegedly stealing an elephant carcass which he intended to give as a gift.
The carcass, weighing 950kg was given to Woodlands Farm Community by Parks and Wildlife Management Authority after they shot a problem elephant on February 25 but Tendai Tidings Musasa allegedly stole it and gave it to President Mugabe.
However, the donation was not accepted as it was deemed tainted after the community and conservationists complained.
Musasa, 39, appeared jointly charged with a villager Noah Zulu, 41 with whom he allegedly connived with to steal the jumbo carcass.
Victoria Falls magistrate Sharon Rosemani remanded the two out of custody to August 19. Namibian based Musasa was granted $400 bail while Zulu was released on $200.
The two are denying the crime, claiming they had the blessing of the Chief Mvuthu and Words of Advice board, a company formed by villagers, when they took away the carcass.
Musasa, is separately charged with a second crime of obstructing the course of justice, after he allegedly sent What’s App messages to Police Officer Commanding Victoria Falls District Chief Superintendent Jairos Chiwona threatening him.
In the messages, the court heard, Musasa claimed he had backing from the First Lady Grace Mugabe who he said would help him make sure the case would not proceed.
The magistrate remanded him on $100 bail to August 20 on the obstruction charge.
Prosecutor Listen Nare said on February 25, rangers shot and killed an elephant that had been reported as a problem animal and handed it over to village head Josphat Sipulila to give to villagers.
“Before the meat was shared, Zulu came to the scene driving Musasa’s tractor and loaded the carcass into the trailer.
He took it to Musasa’s homestead who then took the carcass and donated it to the 21st February Movement celebrations organising committee,” said Nare.
Matetsi National Park area manager Nomsa Moyo testified that no individual was allowed to donate the whole carcass unless he or she had a hunting quota.
Musasa and Zulu are being represented by Vuyile Mpofu, of Marondedze, Mukuku and Partners.
The carcass, worth $28,000, was recovered.
The conservancy situated outside Victoria Falls town, was taken over from its former white farmer who was chased away in 2000 at the height of Zimbabwe’s land reform.
It has been at the centre of an ownership wrangle between the 118 beneficiaries and Musasa and his mother Judith Maphosa as the farmers accused the family of misappropriating nearly $200 000 in proceeds from the game farm in 2013.
Most of the beneficiaries are war veterans, government officials and game rangers among other people.