Two Zambians sentenced for dealing in ivory

10 Oct 2016 16:50pm
KATIMA MULILO, 10 OCT (NAMPA) – Two Zambians were jailed separately for dealing in elephant tusks (ivory) in the Zambezi Region.
The two men appeared before Katima Mulilo Magistrate, Karl Muyeghu on Friday on similar but separate charges.
Joe Mwangala Walubita, 37, was sentenced to three years of which one was suspended on condition he is not charged with dealing in controlled wildlife products, or is in possession of controlled wildlife products and live ammunition during that time.
Walubita, a taxi driver, was arrested on 19 August 2016 in the Musanga area, where he was found with 8 elephant tusks valued at about N.dollar 68 591.
The taxi he used to transport the tusks, when the Namibian Police Force nabbed him, has been forfeited to the State as a tool used in furtherance of the offence.
During the court hearing, Walubita, who conducted his own defence, maintained he was not a poacher but was merely sent to transport the tusks.
However, Magistrate Muyeghu noted how Walubita played a role in the crime as he possessed and couriered the tusks, adding he facilitated the transaction of the poachers, with an aim of being paid an undisclosed fee, which is what needs to be discouraged.
“The offence is serious and prevalent. It is regulated by statute. It cannot be ignored that dangers about the loss of elephants are detailed out on the media and hence, one has to be alive to the increasing loss of animals,” Muyeghu said in his sentencing.
In a separate case, 37-year-old Kufuna Kambembe, appeared before the same court, also for dealing in elephant tusks.
Muyeghu sentenced Kambembe, who hails from Sesheke in Zambia, to two years imprisonment after being found in possession of 14 pieces of ivory valued at N.dollars 27 962.
Kambembe was arrested on 27 August 2016 at Wenela Border Post, where he was found transporting the ivory in his wheel-burrow to the Zambian border post.
Kambembe maintains he was paid N.dollars 68 (about 50 000 Zambian Kwacha) by a stranger at the border, who asked him to transport the packages, without revealing their content.
Magistrate Muyeghu said the trading in illicit wildlife products is feeding into the black market, which in return contributes to organised crime, and is something that citizens must be deterred from.
“The accused needs to be deterred from committing a similar offence. Numerous studies have been done into the effect of poaching of elephant families. In order to maintain biodiversity and the social culture of elephants, poachers need to be deterred and it can be done by the type of sentence imposed,” said Muyeghu.