By Faustine Kapama, The Daily News
The Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court in Dar es Salaam sentenced businesswoman Haika Mgao to a total of 60 years imprisonment for unlawful possession of four pieces of elephant tusks and two hippopotamus teeth, which are government trophies, worth of 70m/-. Senior Resident Magistrate Godfrey Isaya imposed the sentence on Friday after the court convicted the 28-year-old woman of three economic crime charges, two of unlawful possession of government trophies and one count of unlawful dealing with the trophies.
The magistrate sentenced her to serve a custodial sentence of 20 years for each count, but ordered her to remain behind bars for only 20 years because the punishment imposed would run concurrently. He took into consideration the mitigation and aggravating factors advanced by both prosecution and defence before pronouncing the sentence.
In his submissions, Senior State Attorney Wankyo Simon, for the prosecution, had requested the court to punish the offender severely due to seriousness of the offences. According to him, acts of poaching had an adverse impact on the country’s economy and jeopardised the government’s efforts of attracting tourists in the country.
On her part, the convicted woman requested for a lenient sentence considering that she had been in remand for about four years. In the court’s judgment, Senior Resident Magistrate Kelvin Mhina, who conducted the trial, stated that the evidence produced by four witnesses, led by State Attorneys Elizabeth Mkunde and Tully Telela, sufficiently proved beyond reasonable doubt that she committed the offences.
During the trial, the court was told that the offences were committed on November 19, 2015 at Kimara area in Kinondoni District in the city. The convict was found in unlawful possession of four pieces of elephant tusks valued at 30,000 US dollars, equivalent to 66,210,000/-, the property of the government of the United Republic of Tanzania, without a permit from the Director of Wildlife.
It was alleged that on the same date and place in the city of Dar es Salaam, the woman was found in unlawful possession of the two teeth of hippopotamus, which are government trophies, valued at 1,500 US dollars, equivalent to 3,310,000/-, the property of the government.
The court heard further that within the same period and place in Dar es Salaam, Haika unlawfully dealt with the four pieces of elephant tusks and two teeth of hippopotamus, all valued at 69,520,000/-, the property of the government without the permit of the Wildlife Director.