Zimbabwean Man Fined for Illegally Possessing Healing Cobras

March 30, 2024
Cobra | Report Focus News

In a striking legal case highlighting the conflict between traditional healing practices and wildlife conservation laws, a Zimbabwean man has been fined for possessing endangered snakes he claimed were used for medicinal purposes.

Polite Ncube, from Gokwe, was convicted at the Kwekwe Magistrates Court for violating the Parks and Wildlife Act by unlawfully transporting two Cobra species. The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) reported that Ncube was apprehended by police in Kwekwe’s central business district on March 25, 2024, carrying a satchel containing the snakes.

Ncube’s defense revealed a blend of personal belief and traditional practices. He claimed the cobras were transformed from short roots given to him by his grandfather, and were instrumental in his healing rituals. This assertion left attendees of the court proceeding in disbelief.

The case took an unusual turn when Ncube, despite the court’s decision to confiscate the snakes, stated confidently that he would be reunited with the cobras upon his return to Gokwe, a claim that underscores the deep-rooted cultural connections some Zimbabweans have with traditional healing practices.

The court imposed a US$200 fine on Ncube, with the alternative being four months of imprisonment should he fail to pay. This incident has sparked discussions on the need to balance respect for traditional beliefs with the enforcement of laws designed to protect endangered species and biodiversity.

The case serves as a reminder of the ongoing challenges faced by authorities in Zimbabwe and other regions where wildlife protection efforts intersect with indigenous practices and beliefs.