Four men, believed to be members of the apostolic sect, were arrested after they were found in possession of 179 fern trees plants and 92 cycad plants valued at more than US$9 000 loaded in a truck in Mbare.

Mathew Charakupa, 31, Israel Mverechena, 33, Bezel Chimombe, 31 and Brighton Mutanhaurwa, 30 were later taken to the Harare magistrates’ court answering to charges of unlawfully possessing the specifically protected plants without a licence.

Fern trees were referred in court as Mudzepete in Shona whilst cycad plants were called Murara.

Charakupa admitted to possessing the said plants when they appeared before magistrate Elijah Makomo while Mverechena, Chimombe and Mutanhaurwa denied the offence.

Mverechena told the court that he was only hired to ferry the plants with Chimombe saying he was assisting in the transportation of the said plants.

Mutanhaurwa also denied the charges saying he was the driver of the truck.

The trio was remanded out of custody to October 1 for trial on US$50 bail.

Charakupa was fined US$150 and he risks being jailed for three months if he fails to pay the fine on or before September 29.

In passing his sentence magistrate Makomo said that such protected species needs to be protected as they are part of our heritage.

Magistrate Makomo also said that leaving them to be plundered was detrimental to the future generations.

“All the plants were recovered and if they were for commercial purposes he did not benefit since everything was taken from you.

“It also emerged from mitigation that you have a huge family responsibility since you are a father of six.

” The court has noted that plants of such type if not protected face extinction.

“Flora and Fauna are part of our heritage and the society needs to protect them and the courts also need to protect them.

“The common good is that if they are left to be plundered it would be detrimental for the future generations,” he said.

Francesca Mukumbiri, prosecuting, had it that on September at around 6pm officials from  the Parks and Wildlife received information to the effect that the quarter was in possession of 50kgs of protected plants.

It was said that they teamed up with police and detectives from Mineral and Border Control Unit and went to Mbare Musika were the four were at.

Reports are that they loaded the sacks into a truck and drove into Mbare.

They were arrested whilst they were at Mhlanga Street.

The plants were valued at US$9 960.