By Judith Sibanda
Victoria Falls, February 29, 2016 – TWO suspected Zambian poachers whose bodies were found floating in the Zambezi River could be given pauper’s burials because their relatives are not cooperating with local law enforcement agents, police said weekend.
Superintendent Jairos Chiwona, the officer commanding Victoria Falls told RadioVOP police had not heard from relatives of the suspects for over a week after they visited Zimbabwe to identify the bodies.
The two bodies were retrieved from the river on Valentine’s Day after a syndicate of suspected Zambian poachers exchanged gunfire with police in the Jambezi area on February 6.
Their bodies were in an advanced state of decomposition and one had both legs missing.
Both men were naked when their bodies were retrieved.
Chiwona said the Zambians who tried to identify the bodies were so shocked by their state, some of them refused to do body viewing.
He said only the third Zambian who was shot during a recent ambush by police in the Matetsi area, near Hwange would be repatriated.
“We are still carrying out some investigations together with our Zambian counterparts,” Chiwona said when asked about progress in identifying the bodies.
“The bodies found floating on the Zambezi River near Jambesi have not yet been identified up to today because of their state whilst the other one will be taken back to Zambia today (yesterday ).”
Relatives of the suspected poachers had brought their identify documents.
“They have stopped coming here since early this week,” Chiwona said.
“They looked shocked and some refused to even look at the bodies at the mortuary.
“We had asked them to bring their (poachers’) wives but we hear they refused indicating that they were frightened by what their relatives said they had seen.”
However, a police source said one of the suspected members of the syndicate, Chistopher Mandaya who was arrested during the ambush had been volunteering some information that could help police in their investigations.
“Their other accomplice has been cooperating, he told us that there was a man in Zambia who all poachers hire to help them cross the river on the Jambezi side,” he said.
“The accused said he had a feeling that their boat capsized since the river was full.
“He advised us to hunt for the man as he might have answers.
“We are failing to do all that because the alleged man is outside our jurisdiction.”
The source said police were already preparing a pauper’s burial for the duo.
Zambia’s Tourism minister Patrick Ngoma recently apologised to Zimbabwe for the increasing number of his countrymen caught illegally hunting for animals in local nature reserves.
He said Zambians were being sent by Chinese syndicates to poach elephants in other countries because Lusaka had tightened security to protect its wild animals.