Zimbabwe: Charamba Disowns Sunday Mail Cyanide Poaching Story


New Zimbabwe

Date Published

Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) national spokesperson, Charity
Charamba, has denied confirming that a senior police officer was
involved in cyanide poaching which killed over 100 elephants last

Testifying as the trial in which Sunday Mail editor, Mabasa Sasa,
investigations editor, Brian Chitemba and a reporter, Tinashe Farawo
are charged with publishing falsehoods Friday, Charamba said article
in question had serious implications on her career.

She claimed that Farawo went on to write the article regardless of the
fact she had promised to give him an informed comment after engaging
relevant offices.

“When he enquired I told him that, to my knowledge, there was no
assistant commissioner involved. I also told him were no any
investigations being carried out.

“Basing on the good relationship I had with Farawo, I informed him
that I would further verify,” she said.

Charamba added: “It was on a Friday and the following day I was at the farm.

“When I came back I saw his (Farawo’s) missed call on my cell phone. I
called back and he told me he was making a follow up on what we had
discussed the previous day.”

The national police spokesperson told court that she emphasised that
she had checked with relevant offices and there was no such case apart
from the arrest of some villagers in Hwange after they were found in
possession of elephant meat.

“That was when he told me that he had been looking for me the whole
day and that he had already filed the story,” said Charamba.

Charamba told court that he asked Farawo where he got the information
and he said he got it from Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife

“The following day on my way to town I was surprised to see a
screaming headline ‘Top cop fingered in cyanide poaching’,” she said.

“I then called Zimparks spokesperson, Caroline Washaya-Moyo who denied
ever speaking to Farawo. Washaya-Moyo told me that, in fact, the
reporter had spoken to one officer called Gotora.”

According to Charamba, she confronted Farawo over the story and he
blamed his editor for having pushed the story and the headline.

Charamba told court that her job was on the line. She said she then
started receiving calls from her bosses and co-workmates who accused
her of dishing falsehoods to the media.

The ZRP officer commanding Matabeleland province also called Charamba
accusing her of dishing falsehoods without consulting him first.

Charamba said the policing officer for the province then called Farawo
who told him that he got information from his sources in Hwange and
also from the President’s office.

She said the story had serious implications on her and other officers.

“This created anxiety within the international and local media. It was
tainting every senior assistant commissioner as a possible poacher.

“I then called for a press conference and set the record straight,”
she told court.

Charamba told court she had a good working relationship with Farawo,
adding that they had been communicating for more than two years.

Court heard Farawo frequented her office collecting media related information.

The case was postponed to May 2. Francesca Mukumbiri appeared for the State.