HWANGE Football Club player Craven Banda has been sentenced to a mandatory nine years in jail for illegal possession of elephant tusks.
Banda (35) who resides at N2 Lusumbami Village, Number 5 and employed by Hwange Colliery Company, was arrested in May after Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) received a tip-off that he was in possession of the tusks.
An anti-poaching team made up of police officers and Zimparks rangers cornered him in Makwika Village where they found him with the tusks in a bag.
Banda pleaded not guilty to violating Section 82(1) of the Statutory Instrument 362/1990 ‘As Read With’ Section 128(b) of the Parks and Wildlife Act Chapter 20:14 which prohibits to acquire, possess or transfer unregistered raw ivory without a permit when he appeared before Matabeleland North magistrate-in-charge Mrs Sekai Chiundura.
He told the court that the bag had been left by some people who ran away when they saw the Zimparks car coming.
Banda was convicted after full trial and sentenced to nine years in jail.
Prosecuting, Mr John Chisango Mutyakaviri said Banda failed to produce a permit allowing him to possess ivory.
“On 24 May Zimparks rangers received information that there was a person with a bag containing ivory at Makwika bus stop in Hwange. They teamed up with police detectives and rushed to Makwika bus stop where they found the accused sitting alone on the bus stop bench with a blue bag on his laps.
“They asked to search the bag and discovered that there were eight pieces of ivory inside the bag. The team asked for a permit authorising the accused to possess ivory but he did not have it,” said Mr Mutyakaviri.
Banda was then arrested and taken to the police.
The ivory weighed 9, 405kg and its value was not given.
Banda was once a key left back for Hwange FC for more than 10 years and also played in Botswana where he was on loan to Motlakase Power Dynamos between 2011 and 2013.
Last year he was playing for Makomo FC in the Southern Region Zifa Division 1 league before returning to the coalminers for the 2020 season.