Dar resident jailed 30 years or pay 900m/- fine over ivory haul (Tanzania)


Maureen Odinga, Daily News

Date Published

The Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court in Dar es Salaam has sentenced Christopher Kaulaga, a resident of Mbezi Mwisho in the city, to 30 years imprisonment or to pay a fine of 900m/- after finding him guilty of possessing elephant tusks worth 96.8m/-.

This has come a few weeks following President John Magufuli’s directive made at the official commemoration of the new Judiciary year and Law Day for courts to fast track all cases relating to trafficking narcotic drugs and unlawful possession of government trophies.

President Magufuli pointed out that it was a surprise cases such as economic organised crimes and trafficking narcotic drugs take up to eight years for the prosecution to complete investigations while the suspects are caught red- handed.

Resident Magistrate Janeth Kaluyenda derived on the verdict upon the prosecution’s failure to prove the case against the accused beyond reasonable doubt.

Ms Kaluyenda alleged that Kaulaga was found in unlawful possession of government trophies without a valid permit from the Director of Wildlife Conservation contrary to the law.

On March 22, 2013 at Mbezi Mwisho in Kinondoni District in the city, the accused was found with 15 kilogrammes of elephant tusks.

“After going through all the evidence, the court has found Kaulaga guilty and is, therefore, sending him to prison for 30 years or pay a fine of 900m/-, which is ten times the amount of the elephant tusks,” said Mr Kaluyenda.

Earlier, Senior State Attorney Leonard Chalo requested the court to severely punish the accused to serve as a deterrent to would be offenders. According to Mr Chalo, the accused did not have any previous criminal record.

In his defence, Kaulaga prayed for leniency, asking the court to give him a light sentence as his parents were depending on him for their upkeep. The prosecution had lined up four witnesses and submitted four exhibits in court, including the elephant tusks and the arrest warrant.