By Johans Mumba, Malawi 24
The Kasungu Senior Resident Magistrate Court sitting at Kasungu has handed prison sentences to two people who killed an elephant inside Kasungu National Park.
The two are Nickson Nthukwa Banda aged 45 and Assani Phiri. Banda has been sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison while Phiri has been handed a four-year jail term.
The court through the Director of Prosecution in the Malawi Police Service, Mr Nepier Chafikana heard that on July 13, 2019 Banda and Phiri went into Kasungu National Park where they killed an elephant and removed its tusks.
On July 18, 2019, Banda was arrested by officers from the national park after being found with elephant meat and upon being questioned he led them to Phiri where two pieces of ivory were recovered.
Confirming to Malawi24, Kasungu Police station inspector Harry Namwaza said the two have been convicted on three game offences which include entering into a protected area, conveying weapons into a protected area, killing a wild animal from a protected area, illegal possession of specimen of listed species, and possessing a firearm and ammunitions without permit.
According to Namwaza, Banda and Phiri pleaded guilty to the charges leveled against them but requested the court to consider lenient sentences because they have families and parents to take care of.
However, the state objected to the request made by Banda and Phiri claiming seriousness of the offences and circumstance in which they were committed ought not to be treated with kid gloves. Chafikana further told the court that the two spent the night inside the national park in order to make sure that they should not go back home empty handed.
Before passing the verdict, Resident Magistrate Montfort Misunge concurred with the state saying that the aggravating factors raised by the state could not be outweighed by the mitigating factors given by the two convicts.
Nickson Nthukwa Banda comes from Kanthungulu village in area of traditional authority Chulu in Kasungu district while Assani Phiri hails from Chilowa village in the area of traditional authority Chulu in Kasungu district.
Recently, two Chinese Nationals plus one Malawian were arrested after being found with tusks of elephants in Lilongwe.