Commercial Farmers Union of Zimbabwe

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Man faces jail over Zimbabwe Bird

Man faces jail over Zimbabwe Bird

Fungai Lupande Court Reporter
An A-Level student who allegedly woke up to the sight of a fish eagle in his house has appeared in court for illegal possession of a protected species. Known as hungwe in Shona, the fish eagle is the Zimbabwe Bird, the national emblem. Takudzwa Brandon Gwatidzo (19), who is doing his Lower Sixth studies, pleaded guilty to the charge, but said he didn’t know what to do with the bird after he found it.

He is accused of possessing the bird without a licence or permit.

In mitigation, Gwatidzo said he was surprised to find the bird in his house when he woke up one morning.

“I asked my young brother to feed it with fish and give it some water while I went to Birdlife Zimbabwe to tell them about the incident,” said Gwatidzo.

“People from Birdlife said they didn’t keep such birds and referred me to Chivero National Park. While I was pondering my next move, I got arrested.”

Gwatidzo will be sentenced tomorrow, and, if found guilty, faces a mandatory sentence of nine years in jail.

Prosecutor Ms Francesca Mukumbiri told the court that on May 15 this year around 6pm, Minerals and Border Control Unit detectives received information that Gwatidzo was in possession of the endangered species.

They went to Gwatidzo’s residence posing as buyers. Upon seeing the Zimbabwe Bird, the detectives identified themselves and arrested Gwatidzo.

Gwatidzo failed to produce a permit or licence entitling him to possess the bird.

The bird, valued at $1 000, was taken to Zimparks.

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