Rhino horn alleged poachers remanded in custody

18 Jul 2016 14:30pm
OTAVI, 18 JUL (NAMPA) - The three men who were on Friday arrested with freshly sawn off rhino horns at a mobile police roadblock outside Otavi, were on Monday remanded in custody.
Suspects Japyangula Tjihange, 33, Tjingee Kaukamburua, 29, and 27-year-old Paulus Tjambiru appeared before Otavi Magistrate Clara Mwilima on Monday morning, where Mwilima explained their legal right to engage a private lawyer, apply for State funded lawyer through the Ministry of Justice’s Legal Aid Directorate or defend themselves in court.
Tjihange and Tjambiru indicated intentions to apply for State funded lawyers, while Kaukamburua said he will acquire the legal services of a private lawyer.
Mwilima then remanded the suspects in custody and postponed the case to 13 September 2016 for further police investigation and to afford the suspects time to acquire legal representation.
Prosecutor Johanna Hamunyela opposed the granting of bail on grounds that two other suspects are still on the run.
Tjihange, Kaukamburua, and Tjambiru were not asked to plead.
Spokesperson of the Namibian Police Force (NamPol) in the Otjozondjupa Region, Warrant Officer Maureen Mbeha on Sunday said the police had found two large rhino horns and a small one in possession of the accused.
The horns were described as fresh, referring to indications of moisture within the fibbers and traces of blood.
She said the three men were arrested at approximately 21h00 on Friday evening at about 40 kilometres west of Otavi on the Outjo-Otavi gravel road.
Mbeha said the police had to chase after the white Toyota double-cab pick-up in which the suspects were travelling in after it failed to stop at the roadblock.
She said as the police were catching up with the vehicle, one of the passengers threw out the bag that contained three rhino horns.
The police managed to stop the vehicle but two of the five occupants jumped out and fled on foot into the bush.
The accused were arrested after police searched the vehicle and found a camping tent, blankets, containers of water, tinned food, seven live bullets for a 303 hunting rifle and a loaded 9 millimetre pistol.
The police suspect the men had just returned from poaching, as the rhino horns were still fresh.
Tjihange, Kaukamburua, and Tjambiru faces charges of possession of controlled wildlife products, and hunting specially protected game.
Their vehicle was impounded at Otavi Police Station.
Police investigations continue.