Ivory smuggling whistleblower in court (Zimbabwe)


Desmond Chingarande, Newsday

Date Published

A foreign photo journalist who exposed an illegal ivory trade syndicate in Zimbabwe yesterday failed to give his testimony at the Harare Magistrates’ Court after the defence demanded documents which allow him to work undercover. 

Adrien Steirn will testify against Farikeni Madzinga (48) and Tafadzwa Pamire (36) who are being charged with contravening a section of Parks and Wildlife Act after they were found in possession of six unmarked elephant tusks without a permit.

While addressing presiding magistrate Josephine Sande, the two’s defence lawyer Gift Mtisi lined up more than seven documents which he needed to prepare his client’s defence.

Mtisi requested the trap authority document which facilitated the apprehension of the accused, access for inspection of the trap money issued to Steirn, a copy of application for a search order, Steirn’s work permit or a Zimbabwe Media Commission licence, affidavits and statements of print-out from Econet.

The State represented by Francisca Mukumbiri agreed to some of the requested documents, but opposed on the work permit saying there was no law which restricts a foreigner from reporting a criminal activity he witnessed.

Mukumbiri told court that Steirn was using a tourist visa when he met the accused persons who offered to sell him illegally acquired ivory.

Sande postponed the matter to May 31 for trial.

Allegations are that on February 14, information was received from the informant that Madzinga and Pamire intended to sell him ivory and had arranged to meet them at Holiday Inn.

The State alleges that the next day a trap was set up by a team of detectives.

The informant met the suspects at Holiday Inn and they left for Highfield with the detectives in trail.

Upon arrival in Highfield, Harare, Madzinga left Pamire waiting in their vehicle and proceeded to an unknown destination. Madzinga later came back driving a Toyota Hiace vehicle.

Madzinga allegedly joined Pamire and they drove to Zimbabwe Grounds. Madzinga was seen taking one elephant tusk from a Toyota Hiace vehicle and placing it in informant’s vehicle.

The suspects were arrested while they were loading the tusks into the informant’s car.

The State alleges the six elephant tusks recovered were valued at $22 797.

Oscar Madhume appeared for the State.