One poacher, Gitabeka Giyaya (54), has been sentenced to 20 years imprisonment after having failed to pay fine of 250,965,000/- for unlawful possession of 13 pieces of elephant tusks, which are government trophies.
Resident Magistrate Ally Mkama, sitting before the Karatu District Court at Arusha City, convicted Giyaya, a resident of Mang’ola Gorofani area within Karatu District, last week after being satisfied by the evidence produced by prosecution witnesses.
During trial, State Attorney Felix Kwetukia, for the prosecution, called four witnesses, including the arresting officers. The prosecution had also tendered into evidence 13 pieces of elephant tusks seized from the accused person, certificate of seizure, trophy valuation certificate and exhibit register.
It was alleged that on December 4, 2014, at Mang’ola Gorofani areas within the district, the accused was found in possession of 13 pieces of elephant tusks valued at 25,965,000/-, the property of the government.
Facts show that on December 3, 2014 one member of the National Task Force engaging in Anti Poaching operations in collaboration with Park Wardens of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) set a trap that ultimately led to the arrest of the accused person with the elephant tusks. Upon being found with the elephant tusks, the accused was asked if he had license to possess the government trophies, but he said he had none.
Following the accused person being found with unlawful possession of the elephant tusks, certificate of seizure was filled in and signed by him to signify the seizing of the 13 pieces of the government trophies.
After being interrogated by the police officers as far as his involvement to the commission of the offence charged, the accused allegedly confessed to have been involved in the crime. This is the second time within a month for the court to convict poachers of their involvement in the illegal activities.
Last month two other poachers, Gidamis Giyamu, alias Hamis and Petro Kilo, alias Kinangai, alias Nanga, were also sentenced to a total of 40 years or pay over 900m/-for being found with four pieces of elephant tusks, which are government trophies without permit.
Both convicts opted to go to jail having failed to pay the fine. Giyamu, according to the magistrate, was required to pay 600,791,500/- to escape the custodian sentence of 20 years, while Kilo had to pay 290,172,000/- if he was to avoid the same jail term.
The prosecution had told the court that Giyamu committed the offence on December 23, 2012, at Oldeani area within Karatu District, where he was found in unlawful possession of two pieces of elephant tusks weighing 70kg, valued at 60,791,500/-, property of the government.
The court heard that on December 23, 2012, a complainant, one Cosmas Kireti, who is Conservator from Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority together with his colleagues, found one killed elephant with its tusks being removed or taken away in Lake Manyara National Park.
Upon finding the said elephant carcass with tusks removed and getting information that there were some people transporting elephant tusks, the conservator and other officers laid a trap at Oldeani area near darajani within the district and saw the accused person carrying a loaded sulphate bag.
The accused person was ordered to stop and having being searched, he was found with two elephant tusks. He was asked if he had any license allowing him to possess such government trophies, but he had none.
He was subsequently arrested and charged with the economic sabotage case. On part of Kilo, the prosecution had told the court that he committed the offence on January 11, 2013, at Lake Manyara National Park within Karatu District, where he was found with two pieces of elephant tusks weighing 34Kg, valued at 29,172,000/-, the property of the government.
It was alleged that on the material day, while some officers of the national park were in patrol saw four people with some luggage and ordered them to stop, but those persons disobeyed and started to run away.
The officers pursed them and managed to arrest the accused person. The accused person was found with the two pieces of elephant tusks. Having being asked whether he had any license allowing him to possess such government trophies, the accused had none.
The accused was, thereafter, arrested and taken to the police before his arraignment.