BULAWAYO – Two suspected elephant poachers in the on-going cyanide poisoning saga in the Hwange National Park have been remanded in prison following their arrest last week.
Clever Khumalo, 44, of Iminyela Flats in Bulawayo and Sipho Mafu, 54, of rural Pelandaba in Tsholotsho, have appeared before Bulawayo magistrate Gladmore Mushove facing charges delivering or offering substances that is unregistered.
The two are being charged of contravening section 77 (2) of the Environmental Management Act (Chapter 30: 27).
Khumalo and Mafu, who pleaded not guilty to the charges, were remanded in custody to October 8.
Last week , three of eight poachers were jailed for 16 years over the same case.
In the current case, the State alleges that sometime in July, the accused couple together with Mthandazo Tshuma — who is still at large — killed a number of elephants not mentioned in court using cyanide before dehorning them for their tusks.
Sanelisiwe Dube, 31, whose whereabouts is not stated in the case, was assigned by the two to help acquire cyanide for their alleged mission.
Dube reportedly went to her former workmate only identified as Buzuzu who was working at NFS Chemicals where she acquired a drum of cyanide without necessarily following the requirements, the court was told.
The state further alleges that Dube later supplied the chemical to Khumalo who then passed it on to Mafu and Tshuma.
The deadly chemical was later poured into different animal watering holes as well as the grazing lands in the Hwange National Park, leading to a number of elephant deaths owing to poisoning.
The suspects allegedly took a total of 22 tusks weighing 249 kilogrammes which they transported to Harare for sale to potential clients.
Khumalo, one of the suspected poachers, was reportedly intercepted by the Harare CID officers while on his way to deliver the ivory to an unnamed destination, but was later released under unclear circumstances, the court heard.
A follow up was made leading to the arrest of the two.