Zimbabwe police investigate Grace Mugabe over ivory smuggling claims

Zimbabwe police investigate Grace Mugabe over ivory smuggling claims”

The former first lady of Zimbabwe, Grace Mugabe, is reportedly being investigated by police over claims she headed up an ivory poaching network which illegally exported tonnes of elephant tusks, gold, and diamonds from the country.

"Ivory was being sourced either from the national park's vault, being thieved or pilfered, or from live elephants being killed by poaching syndicates".

"The syndicate would then sell to Grace Mugabe's clientele".

The Sunday Mail said investigators from the parks and wildlife authority handed documents to police showing that the former first lady "spirited large consignments of ivory to China, the United Arab Emirates and the United States among other destinations".

According to Stern, he discovered Grace's involvement with the poaching and smuggling syndicate when he began looking into the illegal ivory trade last December.

The different consignments of contraband were then pooled outside the country and shipped to black markets around the world. The former president was lauded for his pan-African ideals, but heavily criticized for mismanaging the country into economic ruin, indirectly causing a mass starvation, and allowing the proliferation of various illegal mining and poaching rings.

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"The culprits were caught and that is how investigations started".

A senior official in President Emmerson Mnangagwa's administration said he ordered the "urgent" investigation after "very strong" evidence was uncovered by Adrian Steirn, an Australian photojournalist. The smugglers, it said, came to their attention previous year when a whistleblower supplied the authorities with compelling evidence of their activities.

The authorities are expected to question Ms Mugabe about her alleged role in the smuggling operation in the near future.

Grace Mugabe earned the sobriquet "Gucci Grace" for her lavish lifestyle.

Zimbabwe has suffered rampant poaching of elephants, targeted for their ivory tusks which are used for ornaments and medicines.

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