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Smugglers of wildlife products appear in court

Smugglers of wildlife products appear in court

Niël Terblanché
THE arrest of four people in the Zambezi Region on Sunday while they were in possession of wildlife contraband during concentrated operations by Namibian law enforcement agencies, revealed a smuggling route that stretches over Namibia’s borders with neighbouring Botswana and Zambia.
The four accused persons, of whom two are teenage children and the third a Zambian national, appeared in three separate cases in the Katima Mulilo Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.
The first case was that of a man, a Namibian national, that was found in possession of 11 elephant tusks that was buried in a house at the Chotto compound in Katima Mulilo. He was arrested and charged with possession and dealing of controlled wildlife products.
The second case was that of the two minors, a girl and a boy aged 16 and 17, who were found in possession of two live pangolins at the Sacona Village. The accused persons are however not the only suspects in the matter. During their arrest two other people managed to flee from the arresting officers.
The third case was that of a Zambian National who was arrested at the Lubuta Village when he was found in possession of five pieces of elephant tusk hidden inside a vehicle.

Pictured: Tusks and pieces of elephant tusk confiscated from suspected wildlife product smugglers in the Zambezi Region. The two pangolins were confiscated from two minor children. – Photos: Contributed

The Zambian national is a taxi driver from Lusaka and he was on his way from Botswana to Zambia over the narrowest stretch of Namibia when he was apprehended.
The case against the Zambian National was postponed until 24 July while the accused person was remanded in custody.
The two minors were released into the care of the parents while the investigation into the matter continues.
The matter involving the man found with 11 elephant tusks in his possession was postponed until 24 June after he was also remanded in custody.
According to the spokesperson of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Romeo Muyunda the arrests were the result of three different joint operations by the Namibian Police and officials from MET.
“The ministry commends the Namibian Police as well as our officials for their hard work and determination in making these significant arrests. The arrests as well as the confiscation of ivory in the joint operations are a boost to our anti-poaching efforts. We warn those involved in such activities to stop or risk been caught to face the full wrath of our laws with increased fines,” Muyunda said.
It suspected that all the elephant tusks and pieces of tusk confiscated from the suspects originated in Botswana and that the contraband was being smuggled to Zambia where it would have been sold.

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