Ivory ‘smuggler’ who dumped wife at airport is captured after 2 years (Zimbabwe)

Aug 10, 2019 | News

By Lindie Whiz, Zim Live

HARARE: A man on the run for two years after allegedly conniving with his wife to send a package of processed ivory to Malaysia has been arrested. Rainstone Masukuta, 40, of Norton, appeared before a Harare magistrate on Thursday charged with wildlife offences.

His wife, Respina, was arrested at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport on December 9, 2017, after delivering processed ivory disguised as kitchen tiles.

The cargo was destined for Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.

Prosecutor Sebastian Mutizirwa opposed bail as Masukuta appeared before Harare magistrate Learnmore Mapiye, arguing that he was a flight risk. The magistrate was expected to make a ruling on Thursday afternoon.

Masukuta and Respina, the court heard, delivered four boxes weighing 200kg to a clearing agent at the airport who sent the package to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) where it was given clearance for export.

The package was declared as “ceramic tiles” and Masukuta paid US$799 as the export fee. The cargo was intercepted by scanners of the National Handling Services and on further examination, it was established that the “tiles” were in fact processed ivory.

Masukuta, who was waiting in his vehicle, became suspicious as his wife took long to return and allegedly fled from the airport.

The court heard that his mobile phone number which he used to pay the export fee became unavailable. Efforts to locate him were unsuccessful and a warrant for his apprehension was issued.

On August 5, police received a tip-off that Masukuta had returned to his house in Norton. Detectives from CID Minerals Flora and Fauna unit reacted to the information leading to his arrest.


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