A 21-year-old man is beginning a nine-year jail term after being found in possession of four snakes and a yellow-throated lizard.
Blessed Morris, of Beatrice, admitted possession of protected animals and moving animals without a permit before Harare provincial magistrate Barbra Mateko.
Mateko handed out the mandatory sentence.
Morris, the court heard, was walking close to Chishawasha Flats in Mbare at around 6AM on July 28 when police officers on patrol stopped him. He was carrying a woman’s handbag, which sparked police interest, said prosecutor Frascesca Mukumbiri.
When police asked to look inside his bag, Morris attempted to flee but the officers apprehended him.
The officers only needed the most fleeting peek inside his the handbag to realise Morris was carrying very dangerous cargo.
The bag and its contents was handed over to the department of national parks and wildlife who determined the reptiles were a python, a Mozambican spitting cobra, two olive grass snakes and a yellow-throated plated lizard and a python which were trapped in pieces of cloth tied with threads.
The court heard Morris had no permit authorising him to possess the snakes and lizard.
Pleading for his liberty, Morris stunned the court when he said he inherited the snakes from his late father.
He pleaded with the court to release him, claiming the snakes were already at his home and he wanted to go and feed them. Prosecutors however insisted the snakes had been handed over to national parks.
“I inherited these reptiles from my late father. They’re my lucky charms. The snakes help me dream of jobs and I always get that job I would have dreamt about. I feed them a diet of sadza, sorghum and mealie meal,” he claimed.
“I’m asking the court to release me as the reptiles are already at my residence waiting to be fed. If I remain in custody, no-one will feed them,” he sobbed.