Two Zambians were jailed for dealing in elephant tusks in the Zambezi Region. The two men appeared before Katima Mulilo Magistrate Karl Muyeghu on Friday on similar but separate charges. Joe Mwangala Walubita, thirty-seven, was sentenced to three years, of which one was conditionally suspended. Walubita, a taxi driver, was arrested on August 19, 2016, in the Musanga area, where he was found with eight elephant tusks valued at N$68,591. The taxi he used to transport the tusks has been forfeited to the state.
During the trial, Walubita, who conducted his own defense, maintained he was not a poacher but was merely transporting the tusks. However, Magistrate Muyeghu said Walubita played a role in the crime as he possessed and transported the tusks for the poachers in return for payment. “The offence is serious and prevalent. It is regulated by statute.”
It cannot be ignored that dangers about the loss of elephants are detailed out on the media and hence, one has to be alive to the increasing loss of animals,” Muyeghu said during sentencing.
In a separate case, thirty-seven-year-old Kufuna Kambembe appeared before the same court, also for dealing in elephant tusks. Muyeghu sentenced Kambembe, who hails from Sesheke in Zambia, to two years’ imprisonment after being found in possession of fourteen pieces of ivory valued at N$27,962. Kambembe was arrested on August 27, 2016, at the Wenela border post when he tried to transport the ivory across the border in a wheelbarrow.
Kambembe said he was paid N$68 (about 50,000 Zambian kwacha) by a stranger who asked him to transport the packages without revealing their content. Magistrate Muyeghu said the trade in illicit wildlife products is feeding into the black market, which in return contributes to organized crime, and is something that citizens must be deterred from. “The accused needs to be deterred from committing a similar offence. “Numerous studies have been done into the effect of poaching of elephant families. In order to maintain biodiversity and the social culture of elephants, poachers need to be deterred and it can be done by the type of sentence imposed,” said Muyeghu.