FRANCISTOWN: Dumisani Moyo, an alleged poaching kingpin in the SADC region finally made his second appearance in a magistrate court in Botswana on Wednesday.
Since 2012, the government of Botswana had been mounting a seemingly impractical process to extradite Moyo from Zimbabwe to Botswana to stand trial.
Moyo, 52, and others not before court are facing a single charge of being found in possession of a rhinoceros horn. The State alleges that Moyo and his accomplices were found in unlawful possession of rhinoceros horn without a licence or permit at the Francistown-Orapa junction on October 22, 2012. An urgent document written to the Zimbabwe Republic Police Commissioner General from one M. Matshiya, Zimbabwe’s Secretary for the Home Affairs ministry, shows that the Zimbabwe authorities sanctioned Moyo to be extradited from Zimbabwe to Botswana on December 4, 2017.
The document entitled ‘Ministerial notification in terms of Section 20 of the extradition Act’, reads in part: “Kindly be advised that authority to proceed as per the court order is hereby granted. May you proceed to effect the extradition and keep us updated for our records.”
On December 15, 2017, a Fugitive Receiving Over Note from the Republic of Botswana signed by the receiving officer, Moffat Dick, a counsel from the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) shows that Botswana authorities received Moyo without any injuries at Ramokgwebana border post.
Another document, a remand warrant from the subordinate court of the 1st class for the Northern District dated December 15, 2017 says that, “You may keep (Sic) Dumisani Moyo in your custody and there safely to keep him until the said date or until he shall otherwise lawfully be discharged from custody”. A third grade magistrate signed the remand warrant.
Moyo is not an ordinary criminal. International crime agencies hardly carry out studies or profiling criminals from this part of the world.
According to a study entitled ‘Beyond Borders: Crime, conservation and criminal networks in illicit rhino horn trade’, that was carried out by the Global Initiative against Transactional Organised Crime, the 52-year-old unemployed Moyo is a holder of both Zimbabwe and Zambia passports.
Moyo is one of Southern Africa’s most notorious poaching ringleaders. Believed to be on the run in Zambia, he has been linked to elephant poaching, ivory smuggling and “dozens of rhino killings” over the past decade. Interpol has issued an international ‘red notice’ calling for his arrest. Moyo was born in the town of Shurugwe in Zimbabwe’s Midlands province, 350km from the capital Harare.
He has been accused of being “the principal sponsor of rhino and elephant poaching in Zimbabwe and Botswana”. Much of the poaching was perpetrated by the ‘Mazhongwe gang 40’, to which Moyo is said to be closely affiliated.
He has also been linked to elephant poaching in Zambia and is said to have played a role in efforts to “smuggle tons of ivory” from Tanzania to the Philippines. Intelligence agents in Botswana believe Moyo may also have been involved in poaching in South Africa’s Kruger National Park.
Between 2008 and 2015,
Arrested poachers have also identified Moyo as a supplier of hunting and assault rifles and ammunition to poaching gangs.
There is some evidence to support claims that Moyo has close ties with elements in Zimbabwe’s Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).
He has been named as a suspect in the killing of two rhinos in the Sango Ranch area within the Savé Valley Conservancy and tied to a gang of poachers allegedly facilitated by a CIO officer named Munashe Mugwira.
Unlike other accused persons who come to court under tight security, like the escapees who bolted from the Francistown Centre for Illegal Immigrants (FCII) early last year, Moyo was accompanied by about eight plain-clothes security detail.
Usually members of the police tactical response team wielding rifles are stationed outside and inside the courtroom when high profile criminals appear in court.
It is not known if the security detail escorting Moyo was armed or not considering the inherent risks of guarding an alleged international criminal like Moyo who is also said to be well connected.
Whilst other accused persons are notorious for hiding their faces and hurling insults at photojournalists for taking their pictures, Moyo was relaxed and probably his main worry was communicating with his family in Zimbabwe to help him get a lawyer.
It is likely that a man of Moyo’s stature will apply for bail in future after engaging an attorney.
It is a given that authorities here will fiercely oppose that bail application on condition that Moyo is a flight risk since he once escaped without trace after being granted bail by a magistrate in Botswana.
In October 2012, Moyo was arrested at a roadblock in Francistown, Botswana along with a Botswana wildlife conservation officer and two others and charged with dealing in rhino horn. Moyo was subsequently released on bail and absconded.
At the request of police in Botswana, an Interpol red notice was eventually issued calling for his arrest.
He was re-arrested on February 6, 2013 by police in Zimbabwe. Once again he was released from custody and disappeared. In December 2015, Moyo was implicated in a poaching incident in the Bubye Valley Conservancy in which two black rhino were killed.
An informant told investigators that Moyo had also supplied a G3 rifle and an AK-47 to the poachers. One suspect, Makhosini Tshuma, was arrested while trying to hitch a lift on a road outside the conservancy.
He was carrying a CZ 550 hunting rifle fitted with a red-dot sight and a new Swedish-made aimZonic Plus silencer, which Tshuma said, had been bought in Johannesburg. In March 2016, Tshuma skipped bail. An arrest warrant has been issued.