11 Sep 2017 17:30pm
WINDHOEK, 11 SEP (NAMPA) A Chinese national who was arrested with a local businessman in February last year for illegal possession of rhino horns and abalone products, is on the run.
Zhi Geng was scheduled to make another appearance in the Windhoek Magistrates Court on Monday morning, but was absent before court. His privately-instructed defence lawyer Amoomo Kadhila also did not know the whereabouts of his Chinese client.
I tried on several occasions to contact him during the course of today, however his mobile phone was out of reach, Kadhila informed presiding Magistrate Celma Amadhila when the lawyer was asked to explain why his client was absent before court.
As a result, a warrant for Zhis arrest was issued with immediate effect, and his bail of N.dollars 250 000 was provisionally cancelled and forfeited to State coffers.
Zhis bail and bail money will be reinstated if he returns to court on 25 September 2017, and once he gives a reasonable explanation in respect of his absence from court.
Meanwhile, Zhis Namibian accomplice, Khomasdal resident James Barron Wallace, who was present before court, was informed that the trial of the case will begin in the Windhoek Magistrates Court on 31 January 2018.
The trial is set down to run until 01 February 2018.
Wallaces bail of N.dollars 30 000 was also extended until the next court appearance.
Windhoek-based lawyer Norman Tjombe is defending Wallace.
The two men have already entered preliminary not guilty pleas to the charges against them in terms of Section 119 of the Criminal Procedures Act of 1977 on 24 February 2017.
They are each charged with illegal dealing and possession of about 1,15 kilogrammes of rhino horns worth N.dollars 91 000.
The two were arrested at a house in Ludwigsdorf on 02 February 2016 by the Namibian Police Forces Protected Resources Unit.
The rhino horn products were found cut into small pieces, presumably for easy transportation out of the country.
The police also found documentation indicating that they illegally imported a consignment of about 94 kilogrammes of abalone products valued at N.dollars 235 000 without proper or valid documentation.
Abalone products include controlled and lucrative sea fishery products, ranging from small sea snails to large edible snails and molluscs.
Public Prosecutor Laura Mabuku Ntelamo appeared for the State on Monday.