By Faustine Kapama, The Daily News
MANYONI: District Court at Manyoni in Singida District has sentenced three poachers to 40 years in prison each after being convicted of unlawful possession and dealing in 14 pieces and two elephant tusks, which are government trophies.
The convicts are Kulwa Subila, alias Ngeleja, Charles Makunga, alias Jumanne and Jumanne Kwangulija, alias Shija Masanja. Resident Magistrate Stella Kiama convicted the trio of the offences charged in two separate cases after being satisfied with the testimony given by prosecution witnesses.
State Attorneys Salim Msemo, Patrida Muta and Tulumanywa Majigo represented the prosecution during the trial. The magistrate sentenced the convicts to serve a custodial sentence of 20 years for each count. She, however, ordered the sentences to run co-current.
This means that the convicts will remain behind bars for only 20 years. The magistrate also ordered the confiscation of the elephant tusks and that they are kept by the government.
Delivering the sentence, the magistrate said that the prosecution sufficiently proved the case against the convicts beyond reasonable doubt as per criminal cases requirements. It was alleged by the prosecution during the trial that on November 21, 2017 in Kambikatoto Village within Chunya District in Mbeya Region, Makunga and Kwangulija were found in possession and dealing in 14 pieces of elephant tusks without permission from the Director of Wildlife.
According to the prosecution, the pieces were obtained from one elephant, the property of the United Republic of Tanzania, valued at 15,000 US dollars, which is equivalent to 33m/ -.
It was alleged in a separate economic case that on September 20, 2018 in Mitundu Village in Manyoni District in Singida Region, Subila was found in unlawful possession and dealing in two elephant tusks obtained from an elephant, also valued at 15,000 US dollars (33m/-).
Meanwhile, the prosecution’s file in the trial of eighteen people allegedly linked with the killing of leading Elephant Conservationist in Tanzania, South African Wayne Lotter, has been taken to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for scrutiny.
This was revealed by State Attorney Ester Martin at the Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court in Dar es Salaam last Friday when the murder trial came for mention. She told the court that the file was with the DPP and, thus requested for another mention date. The trial attorney was responding to a concern raised by Advocate Rayson Luka, for the accused persons, over lack of progress recovered by the prosecution in conducting the investigation.
Defence counsel had complained that incomplete investigation had become an endless song for prosecution. After listening to both parties, the magistrate adjourned the case to April 17, 2020. The accused persons in the trial are two Burundian nationals Nduimana Zebedayo, alias Mchungaji and Habonimana Nyandwi.
Others are Khalid Mwinyi, a banker and his sister, Rahma Mwinyi, a businesswoman, Mohamed Maganga, an office attendant, Godfrey Salamba and three businessmen; Innocent Kimaro, Chambie Ally and Allan Mafuwe. The rest are Robert Mwaipyana, a bank officer, Ismail Mohamed, a Somali national and Abdallah Bawaziri, alias Bawaziri, a resident of Dodoma, Leonard Makoi, Amini Sham, Ayoub Selemani, Joseph Lukoa, Gaudence Matemu and Abuu Mkingie, who are all businessmen.
The prosecution claimed that on diverse dates between July 1 and August 16, 2017, within the United Republic of Tanzania, all accused persons conspired to murder Wayne Derek Lotter. It is alleged that on August 16, 2017, at the junction of Chole and Haile Selassie Road within Kinondoni District in the Commercial City of Dar es Salaam, the accused persons murdered Wayne Derek Lotter, who was a South African antipoacher campaigner.
Wayne Lotter was killed while being chauffeured from the Mwalimu Julius Nyerere International Airport to his hotel when his taxi was stopped by another vehicle. Two men, one armed with a gun allegedly opened the car’s door and shot him. Lotter was a director and co-founder of the PAMS Foundation, an NGO that provides conservation and anti-poaching support to communities and governments in Africa. Since starting the organisation in Tanzania in 2009, he had received numerous death threats relating to his work.