THE sale of ivory to undercover Police officers almost seven years ago is set to cost a Caprivi Region resident N$20 000 or two years in jail.
After being convicted of dealing in elephant parts on Tuesday, Mufoka Morgan Kalwizi (40) returned to the Katima Mulilo Regional Court yesterday to be sentenced.
Magistrate Naomi Shivute sentenced Kalwizi to pay a fine of N$20 000 or serve a two-year prison term.
Kalwizi was convicted of a contravention of the Controlled Game Products Proclamation of 1980. He was charged with dealing in or possessing ten elephant tusks, weighing 79,95 kilograms and at the time valued at about N$70 080, at Makanga, a village in the Caprivi Region, on December 27 2002.
Kalwizi was arrested after he sold the ivory, which he had dug up from a hiding place where it had been buried at Makanga, to undercover Police officers who had been tipped off about his search for a buyer for the tusks, the court heard during his trial.
With the sentencing, the Magistrate told Kalwizi that the offence he was convicted of is serious.
The fact that he sold ten tusks means five elephants had been killed to get hold of that much ivory, she remarked. If elephants were to be killed off at such a rate, they could become extinct in that part of Namibia, the Magistrate also commented.
She reminded Kalwizi that Namibia's wildlife is attracting tourists to the country and to the Caprivi Region. Killing elephants in order to sell parts of these animals would in the end harm tourism in the country and threaten the livelihoods of people making a living from tourism, Kalwizi was warned.
Kalwizi's trial started on September 14 2002, but was interrupted for more than three years after Kalwizi failed to reappear in court in February 2006. He was finally rearrested in April this year.
Public Prosecutor Jatiel Mudamburi represented the State in the last stage of Kalwizi's trial this week. Kalwizi was not legally represented.