Ranger on deathrow freed

HARARE - 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 sleeping.

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.

Comments (7)

The fact that the convicted man was a game ranger and the fatal incident occurred during a very dangerous operation to arrest known professional poachers was in itself clear extenuating circumstances that would have led any competent judge from imposing such a shocking judgement as a death penalty. Murder is in itself normally premeditated and how could a ranger trained and licensed to investigate, arrest and engage dangerous poachers in combat have been suspected of malice enough to kill a known poacher? Well done to the Supreme Court for its wisdom in overturning this callous sentence.The rushed, unreasonable sentence imposed by the High Court judge is the very stuff that has led many people to advocate for the total removal of the death sentence even in heinously committed crimes where it is clearly justified.

tafamutekwe - 2 July 2014

Ko vangani vari kuurawa ne ZRP asi pasina ZRP inptongerwa rufu?

Tawanda - 2 July 2014

@tafamutekwe-thumps up to you

comrade - 3 July 2014

Now I think they need to investigate the lower court's judge...I smell a dead rat

juicy - 3 July 2014

I am relived for Maxwell Bowa. He should not of had to go through the ordeal that was inflicted upon him. I think a lot of damage has been done by the first verdict. Our rangers have a difficult enough job as it is without have the "rope" hanging over their heads. I look forward to an article describing Maxwell suing for the severe stress placed upon him by that ill thought out judgement. Maxwell, thank you andI hope you will be able to get your life together again, Cavan.

Cavan Warren - 3 July 2014

As the previous person mentioned it looks like there might be a very smelly rat about. However, how are rangers meant to do a good job if they are faced with the possibility of death or jail. There should be a much deeper investigation into these matters and a lot more leaning towards the protection of these extremely brave rangers. They are faced with death themselves and without them what would we do. Well done to turn the verdict around and very well done the all rangers. Your bravery is going to be repaid by the Boss of all matters.

Lidbetter - 6 July 2014

Greetings from Scotland. So happy for this brave man, Maxwell Bowa, I hope that he can live a long and happy life and many more animals will be protected by him.

Cathy Bisset - 4 July 2016

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