Ivory trafficker sentenced after admitting guilt (Namibia)


By Werner Menges, The Namibian

Date Published
A FINE of N$20 000 or three years behind bars is the price an Okahandja resident has to pay for helping an alleged ivory smuggler to transport three elephant tusks from Rundu to Windhoek two years ago.
After pleading guilty to a charge of possession of controlled wildlife products on 7 October, Immanuel Petrus was sentenced in the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court on Friday. Magistrate Justine Asino sentenced him to a fine of N$20 000 or three years in prison.
Petrus and three co-accused were jointly charged with a count of dealing in or possession of three elephant tusks in Windhoek on 8 November 2012. Petrus’ trial was separated from that of his co-accused – George Ndala Mashala, Buchard Garureb, and Henri Eric Arthur Aucamp – after he pleaded guilty.
In a plea explanation, Petrus admitted that he possessed three elephant tusks, valued at close to N$44 000, in Windhoek on 8 November 2012 without a permit.
He also said he knew it was unlawful to possess the ivory, which is a controlled wildlife product.
He told the court that he was attending a funeral at Rundu when he received a call from Mashala, asking him to deliver three tusks to a lorry for transportation to Okahandja. 
According to the arrangement, Petrus was supposed to receive the tusks from people unknown to him.
Petrus said Mashala promised to pay him N$1 500 for his role.
He said after he had returned to Okahandja, Mashala asked him to transport the tusks to Windhoek. Petrus did that, too. 
He said he handed the tusks over to Mashala, who was in the company of Garureb. 
Petrus said he was in a taxi, waiting for his promised payment from Mashala, when the police arrived and arrested him.
The police allegedly found the three tusks in Aucamp’s house in Windhoek.
Their trial has been postponed to 24 November.
Mashala, a Congolese, is also facing a similar charge in another case pending in the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court.
In that case, Mashala, two Chinese, Hou Xuecheng and Sha Zhiwei, an Indian, Rajaiyah Ranjith Kumar, and a Rundu resident, Hamutenja Stanislaus Hamutenja, allegedly possessed or dealt in four elephant tusks in Windhoek’s Northern Industrial Area on 11 June.
After a month and a half in custody, Hou was granted bail of N$30 000 on 29 July. He is now back behind bars, though, after he was arrested last week for the theft of animal skins from a taxidermist at Otjiwarongo. 
The police are alleging that Hou bought the stolen animal products, valued at nearly N$340 000, from two Namibians for N$10 000.