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Harare trio charged with illicit cannabis cultivation

HARARE — Three individuals, including a Harare man and his daughter, were arraigned on charges of illicitly cultivating cannabis, commonly known as mbanje, in their backyard.

Thony Octavo Cesane, 70, his daughter Paola Thompson, 45, and their employee Mike Chakanetsa, 35, stood before magistrate Dennis Mangosi in Harare, facing allegations of unauthorized cannabis cultivation. They have been released pending a court appearance set for January 31.

The prosecution, led by Thomas Chanakira, claimed that the CID Drugs Harare Crack Team acted on a tip-off received early Wednesday, suggesting the trio was involved in the cultivation of mbanje under the guise of operating a herbal medicine business.

Later that day, detectives arrived at the Avondale residence, where they discovered Cesane and Thompson, who then directed them to Chakanetsa in the process of harvesting the plants.

Authorities seized 45 cannabis plants, each approximately two meters tall, which were reportedly tended by the accused. The confiscated cannabis has been sent for forensic analysis, with results pending.