Traditional healer jailed for illegal possession of elephant tusks (Zimbabwe)


Nokuthaba Dlamini, NewsDay

Date Published

A 34-year-old Tsholotsho traditional healer has been jailed nine years for illegal possession of two elephant tusks, which he claimed were for his healing business. Toni Maphosa claimed that he picked the pieces of ivory in the bush and used them in his bone-casting rituals in healing sessions. 

He pleaded guilty to possession of raw ivory, when he appeared before Hwange magistrate, Rose Dube recently.

“I picked the ivory in the bush and I was keeping it because I wanted to use it since I am a traditional healer,” he said.

In mitigation, he begged the court to give him an option to pay a fine, saying he had money and he looked shocked when the magistrate sentenced him to an effective mandatory nine years in jail.

For the State, Loveness Maseko said the ivory weighed 0,765 kg.

It was the State’s case that an anti-poaching team comprising rangers from the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority received a tip-off that the accused was in possession of ivory.

“The accused was then found with two pieces of ivory, but could not produce a licence authorising him to have them.

Upon his arrest, the court heard, Maphosa said he had picked the ivory in the bush and was keeping it, so he could clean them for use in his traditional healing business.

Recently, two people were also jailed nine years each for illegal possession of three pieces of ivory valued at $900 and 270 grammes of cyanide.

David Ndlovu (42) and Nkathazo Penga (33) confessed to killing five jumbos by lacing oranges with the deadly cyanide, when they were arrested on July 4 at Cross Dete, where they were selling the ivory.