A man from Bulawayo who was found in possession of a pangolin skin valued at US$5 000 shocked the court when he claimed that he wanted to raise money to buy a birthday present for his girlfriend.
Thandazani Baloyi (34) from Entumbane suburb pulled the shocker when he appeared before Bulawayo regional magistrate Dambudzo Malunga facing a charge of possessing a specially protected animal trophy as read in Section 45 (1) (b) as read with Section 128 (b) of the Parks and Wildlife Act Chapter 20:14.
He pleaded guilty to the charge and he was remanded out of custody to 29 May for sentencing.
In mitigation Baloyi told the court that he wanted to sell the pangolin skin to buy food since he was not gainfully employed adding that he also wanted to buy a birthday present for his girlfriend.
The State case was that detectives received a tip-off that Baloyi was selling a pangolin skin near Renkini old bus terminus.
After that tip-off detectives didn’t waste time when they quickly went there and upon arrival they found him carrying a sack filled with mopani worms popularly known as amacimbi.
When they searched that sack with amacimbi they found the pangolin skin hidden underneath, the court heard.
When the detectives asked him to produce a licence which allowed him to possess the pangolin skin he failed to do so, leading to his arrest.
The skin was taken to an ecologist who established it was indeed that of a pangolin.
Constance Tatenda Mathaba prosecuted.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe has one of the strictest laws against pangolin poaching in Africa and pangolins are protected under the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Act, which stipulates that the illegal possession or dealing in a pangolin attracts a mandatory sentence of nine years