A SUSPECTED Zambian poacher, who was arrested 12 months ago, is fighting for freedom at the Hwange court where he is facing charges of entering the country illegally and of possessing ivory without a license.
Rangers rounded a group of 12 suspected poachers in the Hwange National Park but only Linduna Walibutha, 37, was apprehended as 11 others fled.
Two elephant tusks weighing 62kg and valued at $15, 500, two axes, 14 rounds of ammunition, 12 bags of clothes, blankets and food were recovered in the bush and are held as exhibit.
Walibutha from Sitwala Village in Kazungula, Zambia is denying the charges.
He told the magistrate Lindiwe Maphosa at the Hwange magistrate’s court last week that he was wrongfully arrested as he was not part of the group of alleged poachers.
“I deny the charges as I was not part of the said group,” said Walibutha.
It remains to be seen how the Zambian would explain his arrest when the defence case opens on Thursday. He is remanded in custody.
Prosecutor, Onias Nyathi, said Walibutha and eleven others who are still at large illegally entered Zimbabwe near Victoria Falls town on March 7, 2014.
“On March 7, last year while in the company of 11 others who are still at large the accused went to Tibukayi area in Hwange National Park armed with a 375 and 458 rifles and ammunition. They allegedly shot and killed one elephant and removed its tusks,” said Nyathi.
Parks rangers heard gun shots and went to investigate, the court was told.
“The rangers came across a fresh carcass of an elephant and spotted the accused and his accomplices packing their bags and fired shots at them. The other 11 escaped while the accused was apprehended,” Nyathi said.