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Game rangers kill three poachers in Save Valley gun fight: police

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MASVINGO – Game rangers shot and killed three suspected poachers in a dawn gun-fight in Chiredzi, Masvingo province, police said.

The victims, Hardlife Mukombi, 44, Owiwi Oquingwi Vedbry Gotora and a third man yet to be identified, were intercepted after jumping over a fence at the Malilangwe Game Reserve, part of the Save Valley Conservancy, at around 3.45AM on Saturday.

An internal police memo seen by ZimLive says two game rangers who saw the trio jumping over a fence armed with a 303 rifle at a place called Stone Gate along the Ngundu-Tanganda Road radioed for back-up, and were joined by three others.

The rangers then began tracking the suspected poachers, finally locating them near a place called Chipangudzi.

One of the rangers fired a warning shot in the air, calling on the three to surrender but Mukombi “started randomly firing live ammunition using a 303 rifle prompting the reaction team to fire live rounds at the deceased persons who were all shot and subsequently died,” the police memo says.

Detectives from Chiredzi Police Station attended the scene. On examining Mukombi’s body, they found – inside

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a satchel – a Zimbabwean passport, soya chunks, an axe, loaf of bread, instant porridge and clothes. He also had a brown wallet containing a South African driver’s licence, a South African firearm licence, a South African private security company identity card, an Economic Freedom Fighters political party membership card and diazepam tablets.

A 303 rifle with an obliterated serial number and a magazine containing six live rounds “was at deceased person arm’s reach,” police said.

A second victim, found 20 meters from Mukombi’s body, had cannabis in his pockets and some alcohol.

The third victim, who was 25m from spot where Mukombi fell, carried a 5-litre container full of water and a flick knife in his pocket.

Police say investigations are continuing into the incident, and the rangers have not been arrested.

Malilangwe, which means “Call of the Leopard”, is a 100,000 acre private reserve looking after Africa’s big five – leopard, lion, elephant, rhino and buffalo. On its website, the Malilangwe Trust boasts of a “motivated and highly disciplined ranger force” which has kept poaching at a minimum.

-Zimlive

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