HARARE – Three brothers who were arrested intending to sell a python skin have been slapped with nine-year prison terms each.
Happison Kenias Manjoro, 42, Albert Kachomba, 46, Michael Dias Maira, 48, were convicted of contravening the Parks and Wildlife Act which prohibits illegal possession of a specially-protected reptile’s skin
They were sentenced to the mandatory nine years’ imprisonment after failing to proffer convincing special circumstances.
In passing sentence, Harare magistrate Nomsa Sabarauta said her hands were tied and could only impose the mandatory nine-year jail term in the absence of special circumstances.
“The offence is on the rise and a deterrent sentence is called for. It is this court’s duty to protect these specially-protected animals because the presence of that skin shows that at some point a python was alive but killed,” Sabarauta said.
“If people like the accused persons are left unpunished, there is a danger that these animals will go into extinction.”
Prosecutor Fransisca Mukumbiri proved that on August 26 around 11 am, detectives from Minerals and Border Control Unit Harare received information that Manjoro and his accomplices were in possession of a python skin and were looking for a buyer.
Manjoro and his team went to National Arts Gallery with the skin. One of the detectives, Masasa, masqueraded as a buyer and was in communication with Kachomba.
Masasa teamed up with constables Chimunya and Chikuni before proceeding to National Arts Gallery along Julius Nyerere Way in Harare.
When the detectives were at Crown Plaza Hotel, Masasa called Kachomba who introduced Manjoro and Maira as his siblings.
The detectives requested to see the skin and Manjoro opened a grey satchel which had the skin wrapped in plastic bags.
Manjoro then signalled his team to come to the scene by removing his cap and they arrived before arresting the crew.
The accused persons were asked to produce a licence or permit authorising them to possess the python skin but failed.
The skin was taken to National Parks and was valued at $2 000.