Tendai Rupapa Senior Reporter
Businessman Mr Tawanda Nyambirai lost 123 cattle worth nearly $1,4 million after his security guard allegedly laced stockfeeds with a poisonous herbicide, for undisclosed reasons.
The farm had 544 cattle of various breeds and those that succumbed to the poison were 47 of mixed breed, 21 heifers mixed breed, 46 heifers Brahman, 21 mixed breed and nine steers valued at $1 365 000.
A total of 421 cattle that survived are reportedly in a dire state.
Paradzai Kamwaza (18), who was employed as a security guard at Marvel Farm livestock, yesterday appeared before magistrate Mrs Rumbidzai Mugwagwa.
He was remanded in custody to February 7 pending a determination of his age. Court papers indicated that Kamwaza is aged 18, but when he appeared in court he said he was 17.
Prosecuting, Mr Sebastian Mutizirwa alleged that between December 29 last year and this month, Kamwaza and his alleged accomplice Timothy Katsekete, who is still at large, allegedly connived to kill the cattle by poisoning.
The court heard that the pair would mix stockfeeds and the poisonous herbicide during feeding, resulting in the death of 123 cattle.
On January 28, at around 2pm, Kamwaza, the court heard, was found with a container full of Paraquat herbicide by Joshua Nyambirai, one of the farm managers who handed him over to the police after he failed to explain what he needed it for.
Upon interrogation, the teenage guard implicated Katsekete, saying he was the one who would administer the poison to the cattle.
Paraquat is one of the most widely used herbicides for weed control and is also used as a defoliant on crops such as cotton prior to harvest. Investigations showed that the farm does not use the recovered herbicide at all.
Samples of carcasses were taken to a Government veterinary surgeon who confirmed that death was as a result of the poisoning. Kwamwaza failed to give a satisfactory explanation as to why he had the herbicide.