Maputo — The Mozambican police on Friday arrested two men caught trying to sell 22.5 kilos of elephant tusks in Maputo Central Market.
According to Paulo Nazare, a spokesperson for the Maputo City Police Command, the men, named as Beltrano Salvador and Justino Sitoe, were also in possession of 100 grams of shark teeth and one kilo of leopard skin. The police moved in to arrest them after they received a tip-off about this attempted illegal sale of wild life products.
As soon as the police command received the tip-off it dispatched officers to the market who made the arrests.
In their defence, the two men claimed that the ivory and other items did not belong to them and that “a brother” had left them on their market stall. This “brother” had asked the two to look after his property, and promised he would return to collect it. The items were inside a bag which they had not opened, and so they did not know what it contained, they claimed.
The two said that, if they had known that the bag contained ivory and other prohibited wild life produce, they would never have agreed to look after it. The mysterious “brother” had not returned, and the two said they did not know where he was.
Nazare did not buy this story, and said the two men were selling the wild life products clandestinely.
The police also seized items of carved ivory (including statues, bracelets and necklaces) during their raid.