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.375 Winchester lever rifle
By Cjp24Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

“With few exceptions, time has not been kind to big game cartridges designed for close to medium range shooting,” writes. “The .375 Winchester is a good example of an excellent cartridge allowed to die. It was introduced in the Winchester Model 94 in 1978 and later available in the Marlin Model 336, Savage Model 99, and Ruger No. 3 rifles. As of 1987, no rifle is available in .375 Winchester, and Winchester has discontinued the 250 grain factory load.”

A perfect symbol, then, for Zimbabwe’s de-evolution; from one of the most peaceful and productive countries in Africa to utter chaos and economic ruin. cries the beloved country, destroyed at the point of a gun. In this case, a .375 Winchester, serial number G1179783.

A Winchester hunting rifle stolen during a violent farm attack in Limpopo has provided a vital link between the so-called “Musina mafia”, rhino poachers operating in southern Zimbabwe and criminal gangs trading in stolen weapons.

The .375 rifle with the serial number G1179783 was seized by Zimbabwean police on April 19 near the Bubye Valley Conservancy, about 90km from the Beitbridge border with South Africa.

It had been fitted with a custom-made silencer. Silencers are illegal in Zimbabwe.

Among the six suspects arrested was Andrew Bvute, a veterinary officer with the Zimbabwean directorate for disease control who has been linked to previous poaching incidents.

He was carrying the rifle when police arrested him and claimed it had been given to him by Musina hunter Johan Roos to shoot rhino. He later retracted this statement.

Bvute was fined only $100 and released.

Beeld traced the weapon to a Limpopo family who were attacked on the farm Nekel, situated 4km from the Mapungubwe archaeological site, on May 8 last year.

The victims, Faan Lemmer snr, 91, his son Faan jnr, 67, and his wife Christie, 60, were terrorised by four armed men for nearly three hours. 

“They beat me to a pulp,” Lemmer jnr recalled in an interview with Beeld. “There was blood everywhere . . .

In an effort to win them over Lemmer lied and said he had voted for the ANC.

“Fuck the ANC,” one of the men said bluntly.

Thirty minutes after the attackers left, Lemmer’s wife cut him free. They spent an uneasy night, waiting for daybreak, before venturing out.

Farm workers found them at 07:00 the next day.

Faan jnr needed 15 stitches to close the wound in his scalp. “My arm was yellow and blue for months. I think I tried to block when they hit me.”

A day later, police arrested a 26-year-old Zimbabwean, Stephen Moleya, and recovered three of the weapons.

But a 9mm pistol and two hunting rifles, a 30-06 and the .375 had vanished without trace.

Investigators believe the .375 was fitted with a silencer in South Africa.

I know that guns — and countries — are neither good nor bad, but that people make them so. As an African American with an African American wife, I’m saddened by the waste of so much beauty and spirit and potential. And the waste of such a wonderful tool with so much history, drenched though it is, in blood.

I hope you can see why I consider the .375 Winchester an interesting cartridge. It can deliver a large diameter bullet of decent sectional density without excessive recoil. Compared to the .444 Marlin and its 240 grain bullet (SD only .185) it is a more efficient cartridge, and less punishing to shoot. But for whatever reason the .375 Winchester has been allowed to become obsolete.

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