Sumbawanga — State organs have seized government trophies worth millions of shillings in Mbeya and Katavi regions.
The seizure has come just two days after police and wildlife officials from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism seized 201 live tortoises worth 30.5m/- at the Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) in Dar es Salaam.
The Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) in Mbeya District confiscated 11 rhino horns weighing 53.3 kilogrammes from four Chinese nationals at the Kasumulu border post. According to a statement issued on Wednesday by TRA, the four were arrested as they were entering Tanzania from Malawi. The revenue body immediately issued a Notice of Seizure on the cargo, which was hidden in a private car.
The hidden horns were handed over to the Criminal Investigation Department in Kyela District to enable preparation of appropriate charges against the Chinese nationals who are in remand custody awaiting prosecution procedures. In a written statement, TRA has warned all those who are engaged in the illegal business to stop, warning of arrest, prosecution and stiffer penalties.
“We are well prepared to identify all those who conduct illegal business at our border posts. We know that most of them hide their goods in their cars,” said Mbeya TRA Deputy Manager Jomimassa Nsindo.
In another development, police in Katavi Region have arrested two people whom they found in possession of four pieces of ivory weighing 47.6 kilogrammes – valued at over 60m/.
The Katavi Regional Police Commander (RPC), Mr Dhahri Kidavashari, told the ‘Daily News’ over the phone from Mpanda Town that the seized pieces of ivory are equivalent to two live elephants.
He RPC named the arrested suspects as Jastin Bruno (50) from Ikuba village and Philbert Leo alias Uliza (35), a resident of Tompolo in Mlele District, Katavi Region. “The two suspects, all of whom are peasants, were arrested at around noon at Usevya village, Tompolo Ward, Mpimbwe Division in Mlele District in the region,” said Mr Kivashari.
According to the RPC, the arrest of the suspects was made possible following the cooperation rendered by village, ward and district leaders in Katavi Region by mounting extensive manhunt in different locations of the region.
The RPC further explained that the two suspects were apprehended by the police and game scouts from the Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) following a tip off from volunteers.
A trap was set and consequently the suspects were caught red-handed in possession of four pieces of ivory loaded on a motorcycle. According to the RPC, the two suspects, who are still grilled by law enforcers, are expected to be arraigned in court soon after preliminary investigations are over.
The series of seizure of government trophies has come as African heads of state prepare to join Chinese President Xi Jinping in South Africa for the 6th Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.