By Kevin Heath
A police chief inspector has been remanded in custody by magistrates in Zimbabwe for trial on March 14th. The high-ranking officer is accused of bringing the police into dispute by associating with a poacher who is appealing a 9 year prison sentence for elephant poaching. The officer is also charged with failing to complete orders on anti-poaching operations.
Chief Inspector Muyambirwa Muzzah who was officer in charge of the Tsholotsho region appeared in front of magistrates at Lupane last week. he was remanded to appear in court again on March 14th for trial.
Muzzah was investigated by senior officers after they were told that Muzzah had private use of a car owned by a known elephant tusk trader called Busani Moyo. At the time that Muzzah was using the vehicle Moyo was out on bail after appealing against a 9 year prison sentence and was also appealing against the guilty conviction.
Of particular concern was that the officers who had arrested Moyo were under the authority of the Muzzah. The senior officers investigating Muzzah decided that the association had bought the police service into disrepute and charged Muzzah under the Police Act.
Further investigations of the chief inspector also discovered that Muzzah and a team of police officers had been sent to Hwange National Park following the mass elephant poisonings to conduct police patrols and anti-poaching operations. It was discovered that he left the operations early without authorisation and before the ordered operations had been completed.
Muzzah’s defence on the two charges are that he is new to the region and did not know Moyo was a convicted elephant poacher when he borrowed the vehicles and he also states that no date had been set in which to end the anti-poaching patrols. He claimed he had to stop the anti-poaching operation to return to Tsholotsho because he had been told the Moyo was dealing in elephant tusks and he had to investigate.