Elephant tusk traffickers in court (Tanzania)


The Daily News

Date Published

Businessman Frank William Silangei, appeared before the Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court in Dar es Salaam yesterday charged with leading organized crimes and unlawful possession of elephant tusks, which are government trophies, valued at over 3.4bn/.

Before Senior Resident Magistrate, Emilius Mchauru, the accused person was not allowed to enter plea to the charges because he is charged under the Economic and Organised Crime Control Act and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has not issued his consent to allow the lower court to hear the case.

The accused was ordered to go to remand until January 20, when the case will be mentioned. On the same day, he will be joined in the case, which involves four others.

These are Thabit Abdallah, Athumani Ramadhani, Godfrey Martine Mushi and Godfrey Derick Sekito. State Attorney, Chyanya Mlaki, for the prosecution informed the court that investigations into the matter have not been completed.

The prosecutor alleged that the accused persons committed the offence of leading organized crime on diverse dates between April 1, 2011 and October 28, last year, at various places in Manyara, Arusha and Dar es Salaam regions.

Jointly, according to the prosecution, the accused persons willfully organised and managed a criminal racket of unlawful dealing in government trophies involving 120 elephant tusks valued at 3,409,815,000/- without a permit from the Director of Wildlife.

It is alleged further that on June 28, last year, at Kigogo within the City of Dar es Salaam, Thabit Abdallah, Athuman Ramadhani and Frank Silangei were found in unlawful possession of 25 elephant tusks valued at 231,735,000/-, property of the United Republic of Tanzania without permit.

There have been claims that well-armed criminals kill elephants and rhinos for their tusks, largely due to increasing demand in China for ivory ornaments and folk medicines.

It is reported further that most of the tusks smuggled from Tanzania end up in Asia. International trade in ivory was banned in 1989 after the population of elephants dropped from millions in the mid-20th century to about 600,000 by the end of the 1980s.

Some Members of Parliament have been alleging that poaching was out of control. They claim that an average of 30 elephants were being killed for their ivory every day.

In August 2011, Tanzanian authorities seized more than 1,000 elephant tusks hidden in sacks of dried fish at Zanzibar port and destined for Malaysia.