04 Mar 2016 10:50am
WINDHOEK, 04 MARCH (NAMPA) The Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta has declined to confirm or deny the alleged involvement of high ranking public office bearers in wildlife poaching syndicates.
Speaking during a press conference here on Thursday, Shifeta stated that he cannot deny or confirm the involvement of such persons, unless proven so beyond reasonable doubt by a court of law.
It could be a former minister but how will the Prosecutor-General even convene a court case if you do not have enough evidence or information? he questioned.
Allegations of high ranking public office bearers masterminding poaching activities surfaced after the Executive Director of NamRights, Phil Ya Nangoloh, claimed that high ranking political figures were involved in the sale of rhino horns and elephant tusks.
Ya Nangoloh made the claims in an article published in the local daily newspaper, Namibian Sun under the headline Ya Nangoloh calls for poaching inquiry.
In that article, Ya Nangoloh was quoted as saying that he is not convinced that Shifeta is serious about rooting out poaching in the country.
If those charged to investigate these crimes are themselves involved, nothing will happen. You cannot be the judge in your own case. The only way to deal with this matter is if the ministry hands over the investigation to an independent judicial commission of inquiry. Ya Nangoloh was quoted.
Shifeta said the ministry needs someone who is 'courageous enough to provide such information', supported by sufficient evidence.
He noted that concrete and factual information will be vital, as investigating someone without such information may be perceived as a witch-hunt.
There should be some substance. I have been asking anybody to come and provide this information. Somebody might say it is a witch-hunt. You should be careful and we really want substance, said Shifeta.
He added that whoever provides such information will be protected by all means.
We will not reveal your identity. But if we do not have the right information, we will end up asking all the ministers if they have been involved in poaching, and I do not think the Inspector-General of the Namibian Police Force has the power to do that.
A gruesome discovery of 30 rhino and elephants carcasses earlier this year raised suspicions of severe poaching activities, but Shifeta claimed the majority of these wild animals might have died of natural causes such as animal infighting and ageing.
He however revealed that seven of the 30 carcasses were confirmed as poaching related.
Some of them are several years old and some are also just a year old, but of course this will be determined by a laboratory test, which are being conducted by the Namibian Police Force, Shifeta noted at the time.