The death sentence issued to Zimbabwean game ranger Maxwell Borwa has been making headlines. The deceased had apparently been a member of a poaching and trafficking cartel which operated between the small town of Norton outside Harare and the Gokwe area. Zimbabwe National Parks and Police apparently sanctioned a combined operation to raid a known safe house used by the poachers.
When the Parks and police details arrived at the house, numerous suspects were still partying amid a plethora of unlicensed firearms. The suspects then bolted. Maxwell Bowa is said to have fired some rounds, two of which struck and killed one Lenna Nkosana. At least one of the shots apparently hit Nkosana in the back.
The possession of an unlicensed firearm in Zimbabwe is a Schedule One offence. Lethal force may be used to apprehend someone in respect of a Schedule One offence. Because of the local townspeoples’ reaction, the rangers and police withdrew and returned the next day.
Zimbabwe also has the Parks and Wildlife Indemnity Act in terms in which Bowa is apparently supposed to have been protected. The trial magistrate ruled that the P&W Indemnity Act only applies within the Parks and Wildlife Estate and sentenced Borwa to death. This ruling’s correctness is in dispute.
National Parks is said to be lodging an appeal on behalf of Borwa.