HARARE, 2 July 2014:The Supreme Court has removed from death row and freed a condemned senior game ranger in the department of National Parks and Wildlife who shot a poacher dead.
Maxwell Bowa was sentenced to death by hanging on September 17 last
year by the High Court in Gweru. He was charged for the fatal shooting
of Lennon Nkosana.
Bowa, through his lawyers Chinongwenya and Zhangazhe Legal
Practitioners, appealed against conviction and sentence at the Supreme
Court, arguing that the lower court erred in passing judgment as
witnesses who testified in the matter were related to the deceased.
Supreme Court judge Justice Paddington Garwe yesterday issued Bowa with a warrant of liberation.
“In the present matter, the killing of the deceased, though unfortunate, was a result of a bona fide attempt to apprehend persons who were believed to be armed and involved in poaching activities,” Garwe said.
“In my view of the conclusion I have reached above, it becomes
unnecessary to consider whether the appellant successfully demonstrated
that he was also acting in self-defence. Even on the basis of the facts
it found proved, the court a quo was clearly in error in finding that no
extenuating circumstances existed.
“The circumstances surrounding the death of the deceased in my view
provided mute evidence of extenuation. Against the background already
given in this judgment, the incident occurred on the spur of the moment
during the execution of official duty, in poor visibility and in
circumstances in which the appellant may have genuinely believe that
harm was likely to befall him.
“In the circumstances, the appeal is allowed and the conviction and sentence are set aside.”
The court heard that an assistant commissioner of the Zimbabwe Prison
Services, whose name was not mentioned in the court papers, was arrested
at a road block after he was found with ivory on February 12, 2012.
The commissioner implicated Tanaka Nyoni and Moses Makwavarara as the owners of the ivory.
According to State papers, the department of National Parks and
Wildlife further received information that Makwavarara operated as the
runner, with Nkosana (now deceased) as the carrier and Nyoni as the
sponsor of the illegal hunting syndicate.
During the night of the same day, a group of ten game rangers
accompanied by two police officers went to Simuchembo area in Gokwe
North in an operation to arrest the suspected poachers.
Upon arrival, the group split into two groups to secure two paths that exited the homestead.
Bowa and his group first approached the homestead and they were
directed by Nyoni’s wife to a house where Nyoni and his crew were
It is the States’ case that two people ran out of the house and
disappeared into the darkness followed by Nkosana, who was shot by Bowa
in the chest and died instantly.
The rangers and the police officers later went to Chitekete Police Station. Bowa was arrested and his firearm confiscated.