Mbonisi is a Judicial Officer (Magistrate) of four years and lawyer whose interest in animal law came about through a wildlife seminar on wildlife crime and the role of the Judiciary in combating these crimes. Through his work as a magistrate in Zimbabwe, he has presided over numerous wildlife crimes such as poaching and possession among other offenses. From the aforementioned wildlife seminar, it dawned on Mbonisi that, as a Judicial Officer, he was part of the fight against wildlife crime. He realized he played a pivotal role in the fight and that there was more he could do to better the welfare of animals in Zimbabwe. Since the seminar, Mbonisi’s approach towards wildlife crime cases has been to consider animal sentience when sentencing offenders.
Zimbabwe is in the process of establishing an Environmental Court, which will exclusively have jurisdiction over all wildlife and environmental matters. An LLM in Animal law at CALS would no doubt equip Mbonisi with the requisite expertise and propel Mbonisi into becoming one of the pioneer Magistrates of the Environmental Court in Zimbabwe. There is a need for Judicial Officers to be aware that they too are part of the fight against wildlife crime and that the sentences imposed by them directly affect the animals involved.
Upon completing the CALS LLM in Animal law, Mbonisi intends on educating his peers and various stakeholders invariably involved in wildlife crimes about the sentience of animals and their invaluable contribution to the environment. The more people are educated on animal law issues, the more well-quipped they become in the fight against wildlife crime.
“The fight against wildlife crime will not only be won by rangers and their guns but by the enforcement of the law through consistent deterrent sentences.”