Tanzania: Ex-Army Officer, 2 Others in Court Over 163 Million/ – Ivory Pieces


Faustine Kapama, Tanzania Daily News

Date Published

A retired army officer, Abson Chaula (57), and two other people, appeared before the Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court in Dar es Salaam yesterday charged with unlawful possession of five pieces of elephant tusks, which are government trophies, worth over 163m/-.

Other accused persons were Said Cheleko (42), a peasant residing at Kibamba area and Leonard Bamie (41), a security guard living at Msasani Mikoroshini area. They were not allowed to enter plea to the counts because their case will be heard by the High Court.

Such case, according to the law, could be heard by a lower court after securing consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). Resident Magistrate Godfrey Mwambapa, who conducted the proceedings, ordered the accused person to remain in remand until November 2, when the case will be mentioned.

The prosecution, led by State Attorneys Elizabeth Mkunda, assisted by Elia Athanas informed the court that investigations into the matter have not been completed. It is alleged that the accused persons committed the offence on September 30, this year, at Jangwani area within Ilala District in the city.

On that day, according to the prosecution, jointly and together, all accused persons were found in possession of five pieces of elephant tusks, which are government trophies certified at a value of 75,000 US dollars, equivalent to 163,650,000/-, without a permit from the Director of Wildlife.

Meanwhile, the same court yesterday threw away the request for being granted bail advanced by businessman Ally Raza (34), one of accused persons charged with importation, possession and storage of prohibited fishing gears, all valued at over 22.9bn/-.

Resident Magistrate Godfrey Mwambapa ruled that his court lacked jurisdictions to entertain the matter. Such request under current circumstances, she said, could only be dealt with by the High Court.

Advocate Lomani Lamwai, for Raza, requested the court to grant his client bail because he was not involved in the first count that fall under the Economic Crime and Control Act, which is triable by the High Court.

However, the prosecution strongly opposed to the application, submitting that the whole case has been lodged as an economic case and that the law was very clear that any application under such circumstances could only be entertained by the High Court, which is vested with such jurisdiction.

Apart from Raza, other accused persons in the matter are Chinese woman, Fu Chang Feng (50) and Jeremiah Kenenge (45), a businessman residing at Mchikichini area.

They are alleged to have committed the offence between October 4 and 5, this year. It is alleged that on October 4, this year, at Kurasini Shimo la Udongo area in Ilala and Temeke District in the city, jointly and together, Feng and Kenenge imported into Tanzania from Shanghai, China a container having 499 bags of monofilament nets valued at 7,485,000,000/-.

Such goods, according to the prosecution, were prohibited for importation and use in the country. The court heard further that on October 5, this year, at Ilala-Mafuriko Street in Ilala District, jointly and together, all the accused persons were found in possession and storing prohibited fishing gears.

The prosecution told the court that such fishing gears were stored in 325 bags containing 187 pieces of monofilament nets valued at 15,193,750,000/-, which are prohibited for storage and use in Tanzania.

It is alleged further that on the same day and place in the city of Dar es Salaam, all the accused persons were found in unlawful possession and storing 50 bags containing 200 pieces of fishing gill nets with mesh less than three inches each, valued at 300m/-, which are prohibited fishing gears.