‘Big-Hearted’ Boyfriend Jailed in Elephant Tusk Takedown (Botswana)


Christinah Motlhabane, The Voice

Date Published

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A big-hearted boyfriend who managed to get his lover off the hook after the pair were caught with two elephant tusks has been taken to task over the matter and jailed for two years.

Zimbabwean native, Brian Ndlovu admitted to being in possession of the ivory, claiming he had been given the tusks by another man with the instruction to sell them. He was busted when police received a tip-off of a man trying to sell tusks at Tonota lands.

Swooping into action on 22 January, the cops pounced to find Ndlovu in the presence of his girlfriend and home-girl, Mary Sibanda.

Although he initially managed to evade arrest, fleeing the scene as the boys in blue arrived, Ndlovu later turned himself in to Tonota police. While the pair were originally both charged with unlawful possession of elephant tusks, the charge against Sibanda was later dropped after Ndlovu told court she knew nothing about the tusks.

He further maintained the illegal items did not belong to him either. “I was instructed by ‘Zama’ to take care of the tusks and sell them for P35, 000 to any prospective buyer. I also did not give the police a difficult time in this case and by having the tusks I did not know I was committing crime,” he insisted.

Having pleaded guilty, Ndlovu, who has been in jail since his arrest in January, was handed his fate by Francistown Magistrates Court last Thursday.

Before passing sentence, Chief Magistrate, Mareledi Dipate took the suspect’s mitigation into account. “He said he was instructed by the owner to sell them not knowing it is a crime and that the court should consider the time he spent in prison. I will also consider that being found in possession of tusks is a serious offence but since the tusks were recovered the accused will be sentenced to two years imprisonment backdated to the time he spent in prison,” ruled Magistrate Dipate, who also ordered the tusks be forfeited to the state.

Meanwhile, although she avoided punishment over the tusks, Sibanda did not escape scot-free as she was found to be in Botswana illegally.

The star-crossed lovers, whose exact ages remained a mystery but was estimated to be between 23 and 30, confessed to being illegal immigrants, a crime for which they both received a P1,500 hit to the pocket. Failure to pay the fine by the end of September will result in a one-year jail term for both – a sentence that will run concurrently with Ndlovu’s two-year jail term, which essentially means he will remain behind bars until January 2023 whether he pays or not!