Courts convict 75-year-old sangoma for picking protected plants

2008-01-14 00:00

TWO people have been arrested and sentenced, one a 75-year-old practising sangoma, after digging up protected plants on private property in Monks Cowl.

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (EKZNW) spokeswoman Maureen Zimu said that while investigating a complaint that people were digging up indigenous plants on private property in October last year, Ezemvelo staff came across three people loading bags on to a bakkie.

“The bags were found to contain large quantities of protected and specially protected plants. The people involved did not have any collection permits, nor did they have the landowner’s permission to collect plants on that property.”

Dumisane Mazibuko (31) and two assistants were arrested but charges against the two assistants were later dropped. While en route to the police station to lay charges, the EKZNW staff came across another group of people also gathering plants on a nearby property.

They too did not have permits, said Zimu. Elsie Mthetwa (75), a practising sangoma from Vryheid, and two assistants were also arrested. Charges against the two assistants were also dropped.

The cases were heard in the Winterton Magistrate’s Court last week.

Mazibuko was sentenced to a R20 000 fine and two years’ imprisonment, suspended for five years, and three years’ correctional supervision, of which he has to serve 16 hours per month for three years.

He was found in possession of Blue Squill and Wild Verbena.

Mthetwa was sentenced to a R1 000 fine and six months’ imprisonment, a R20 000 fine and two years’ imprisonment, suspended for five years. She was also sentenced to 18 months’ correctional supervision, of which she has to serve 16 hours per month for the full 18 months. In addition to Blue Squill, she was in possession of Anemone Fanninii and Agapanthus.

EKZNW chief executive officer, Khulani Mkhize said: “This case sends a clear message to those who gather such plants illegally that we … will prosecute offenders.”

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