LOCAL Government, Rural and Urban Development Deputy Minister Cecil Zvidzai has been named in a case in which three men were arrested in possession of two rhino horns worth US$120 000 last week.
Police recovered the horns in an Isuzu KB300 registered in Mr Zvidzai’s name at Road Port in Harare.
The vehicle has since been impounded following the arrest of Zivanai Masvaire (27), a game scout at Eldorado Farm, Charles Dowe-rowe (37) and Shepherd Naite (37).
The trio was arrested while allegedly trying to smuggle the horns to South Africa.
They are being charged with poaching and an alternative charge of unlawful possession of a trophy of an endangered species.
Their alleged accomplices, Naison Murindatsimba, a soldier, Ophel Makumburenga and his cousin Musiringo are still at large.
Dowerowe and Naite were arrested before they could flee to South Africa with the horns weighing 8,2 kilogrammes.
Naite has a pending case before the courts in which he is jointly charged with three others for possession of 15 elephant tusks worth US$8 500.
The trio yesterday appeared before regional magistrate Mr Hosiah Mujaya and had its application to have its detention pending court appearance declared unlawful, thrown out.
Through their lawyer, Mr Norman Mugiya, the three are expected to apply for bail today.
In his application for a declarator order, Mr Mugiya argued that his clients were assaulted and detained in police custody without a warrant of further detention.
“The court must give a declaration that the arrest was unlawful considering that they were over detained contrary to the provisions of Section 32 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act,” said Mr Mugiya.
Prosecutor Mr Michael Reza opposed the application, arguing that such an order can only be made by the High Court.
“A declaratory order is a final order; it forms part of precedence. Ordinarily, it is not appealable, only a judge can issue such an order,” he argued.
Mr Reza said the police had lawfully detained the suspects because they had a warrant of further detention.
He urged the court to dismiss the defence’s application as frivolous.
It is the State’s case that on December 31 last year, Masvaire, Dowerowe, Naite and their accomplices hatched a plan to kill a rhinoceros at Eldorado farm in Macheke.
Masvaire reportedly directed his accomplices into the farm where they killed a rhinoceros and dehorned it.
Investigations led to his arrest and he implicated Dowerowe and the others.
Dowerowe and Naite led police to the recovery of the horns, which were stashed in an Isuzu KB300, registration number ABI8755, which they were driving.