Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Court Reporter
A GWANDA-based nurse, who was caught by detectives with a python skin worth US$5 000, has approached the High Court seeking bail pending trial.
Millicent Sibanda (27) is facing charges of illegal possession of specially protected animal trophy (python skin) in violation of the Parks and Wildlife Act.
Sibanda, through her lawyers Samp Mlaudzi and Partners, filed an application for bail pending trial at the Bulawayo High Court citing the State as a respondent.
In her bail statement, Sibanda is denying the charge, arguing that she only boarded a taxi which was carrying a python skin.
“I aver that I had no knowledge of the contents of the bag, which was in the car I had boarded. In actual fact, I only boarded the taxi which was being driven by a certain man I later got to know as Tendekai Zungunde and there was also another woman seated in the front seat. I did not bother to check what was inside the car,” said Sibanda.
She argued that the State had no compelling reasons warranting her continued detention. She said if granted bail she would not abscond.
“I am an adult of fixed abode, gainfully employed as a professional nurse and therefore have strong ties in the community. I have a good defence and as such I am not a flight risk. I am a suitable candidate for bail as there are no compelling reasons to deny me bail,” said Sibanda.
The State, which is being represented by Mrs Sifiso Ndlovu-Sibanda, opposed the application, arguing that the applicant was likely to abscond if released on bail since she is facing a serious offence which attracts a lengthy jail term.
“The applicant was caught red-handed and she is facing a serious charge such that if convicted she is likely to face imprisonment of not less than nine years. It would not be in the interest of justice to admit the applicant to bail as there is overwhelming evidence against her largely because the python skin was found in her possession,” said Mrs Ndlovu-Sibanda
According to papers before the court, on March 22 at around 9AM, police detectives received a tip off that Sibanda and her accomplice Zungunde (25) were spotted with a python skin hidden in a Toyota Raum.
The cops proceeded to a spot between Herbert Chitepo Street and Connaught Avenue in Bulawayo where Sibanda and her accomplice had parked their car.
They found Sibanda seated at the back holding a bag with Zungunde seated on the driver’s seat. There was also another woman identified as Sibongiseni Ncube who had occupied the front passenger seat.
The detectives requested to search the car during which they recovered the python skin hidden in a bag, which Sibanda was carrying. She failed to produce a permit leading to her arrest.
Investigations revealed that Sibanda had brought the skin intending to give it to Zungunde to sell.