A TOP lodge owner has been dragged to court for entering a wildlife estate without authorisation. Chewore Lodge owner William Terrence Kelly appeared yesterday before Harare magistrate Dennis Mangosi also for another charge of theft as well as unauthorised access to a computer.
On August 10 this year, professional hunter Cliffton Walker submitted his hunting permit to hunt and kill a lion and leopard in the Big Five Concession (Chewore North) from that day to September 2. Walker was then assigned Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) ranger Manoti Mukotowa to monitor the hunt so that the hunter would abide by the conditions of the hunting ethics.
Walker then killed three hippopotamuses and set baits at strategic points as instructed by the rangers. The next day, Walker set up a bait using a hippopotamus hind quarter at a point about 450 metres west of an airstrip, about 11km from the Kapirinhengu Field Station and about 8km from Chewore Lodges.
He also set up a Bushnell motion sensor camera adjacent to the hanging bait. On a daily basis, Walker would check the bait and extract data from the motion sensor camera. On August 14, Walker and his team shot and killed a lion at the bait site. They left the bait intact as well as the camera as they waited to kill a leopard.
The next day, Kelly reportedly unlawfully entered the safari area where Walker had set a bait, according to the prosecution. He chopped down the hanging bait from the tree and took the Bushnell motion sensor camera and went away. Later in the afternoon, Walker’s back-up comprising Luis Muller and ZimParks ranger Shingirai Sitima went to the bait site and discovered the offence.
They alerted Walker, who then reported the matter to the ZimParks officer-in-charge. Investigations were carried out and Kelly was arrested. On August 18, Kelly was found in possession of the Bushnell motion sensor camera. Kelly was remanded in custody to Monday next week when the court will determine if he is a proper candidate for bail.
Investigating officer Detective Guidemore Saruchera, from the police’s Minerals Flora and Fauna unit, opposed bail saying Kelly has known record/previous conviction. He also said the accused has pending cases at court. Saruchera said since the day crime was committed, Kelly was evasive and was only arrested after a raid, hence his chances of absconding were very high.
The prosecution says it has eight witness lined up to testify against Kelly, and if he gets bail, his chances of interfering with them is high considering that they reside in the same neighbourhood and some of them are his employees.
Saruchera said they expect to have completed investigations by November 31, 2023. He said after committing the crime, Kelly fled to Harare. He added that Kelly could also easily sneak out of the country because he resides just close to the border and operates a boat cruise company along the Zambezi Rivers.
Dzidzai Josiah Bofu prosecuted.