By The Daily News
A Ruvma resident and his friend from Morogoro Region have started serving a 20-year sentence after being found guilty of possessing government trophies. Maxmilian Mwenda (58) from Lilondo Village in Madaba Council and Rashid Migoha (58) alias Mwendomchanja from Ifakara in Morogoro Region were on Friday convicted by the Songea District Court.
The court found them guilty of possessing 12 elephant tusks worth 129m/-.
The judgement was passed by Magistrate Clefasi Waane, who is in charge of the court after finding both of them guilty of the offence on two grounds. The prosecution was led by State Attorney Hamimu Nkoleye assisted by Mr Justin Ndyanabo from Wildlife Management.
It was alleged that on November 10, 2016 at Lilondo Village in Madaba Council, Songea District, the accused were found in illegal possession of 12 elephant tusks valued at 129m/-.
It was also alleged that the charges were read for the first time at the court on November 21, 2016 in an economic case No 8/2016. The accused, represented by defence counsel Edson Mbogoro, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
During hearing, the accused were set free and were later rearrested. The case was reopened as an economic case No 5/2017 after obtaining a permit from the High Court. During trial, the prosecution presented six witnesses, including an official from Wildlife Management in Madaba Council, Mr Emmanuli Nyanda. In his testimony, Nyanda informed the court on how they were tipped by an informant that the accused were at Lilondo Village looking for a customer to whom they would sell the elephant tusks.
The two were arrested with 12 elephant tusks in Mwenda’s house and taken to Madaba Police Station and later to court.
The prosecution asked the court to impose a tough penalty considering the fact that poaching was illegal and the accused knew that it was an offence to illegally possess elephant tusks and that it would deter other members of the public, who were thinking of involving themselves in illegal acts.
After hearing submissions from both parties, the magistrate passed the sentence and ordered for the elephant tusks to be handed over to the responsible authorities.