By Douglas Mubiru, New Vision
The Standard Utilities and Wildlife Court at Buganda Road in Kampala has convicted and fined a man sh5m for being in illegal possession of protected species contrary to sections 30 and 75 (b) of the Uganda Wild Life Act Cap, 200.
Benon Bob Bwanika, a milkman, was on Tuesday fined or spends two years in Luzira Prison on default by the Grade One Magistrate, Marion Mageni, after pleading guilty of the offence.
He’s a resident of Wanseko trading Centre Wanseko Parish, Kigwera Sub-County in Buliisa district. The trial magistrate found the punishment proper on grounds that he was remorseful, a sole breadwinner to his family of five children and didn’t waste court time when he opted to plead guilty.
“I also note that the convict has not wasted the court’s time when he opted to change plea to guilty and he’s willing to reform.
I, therefore, find sh5m fine appropriate or spend two years on remand on default. You have a right to appeal if you are not satisfied with my ruling,” Mageni ruled.
Prior to the magistrate’s ruling, the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) prosecutor, Annet Tuheisomwe told the court that the convict was found with six pieces of ivory tusks concluding that three elephants were killed.
“Your worship, our prior investigations reveal that three valuable elephants lost life, the six ivory pieces are in court, a weighing scale and a tarpaulin, all exhibited,” Tuheisomwe said.
She added that the current law on all those found guilty of illegal wildlife species is “life imprisonment” but it could not apply to the convict since the offence was committed in July before its inaction.
Upon mitigation, the defense counsel, Moris Kiddu requested for leniency while sentencing the convict for he was a first time offender with no criminal record and was ready to reform.
Prosecution alleged that on July 31, 2019, at Wanseko trading Centre in Buliisa district, Bwanika had in his possession six pieces of elephant tusks weighing 60.54kg valued at approximately over sh163m, without a valid wildlife use right.