31 August 2017

Malawi: Reverend Kanyimbo Jailed for Possessing Ivory - Chitipa Magistrate Hands Four Years Sentence

Chitipa Magistrate Court Tuesday sentenced a 26-year-old man to four years imprisonment with hard labour (IHL) for being found in possession of ivory of an African elephant.

The court heard that Reverend Kanyimbo was arrested on August 23 in a rest house at Nthalire Trading Centre in the district following a tip from game rangers from Nyika National Park.

Police Prosecutor, Inspector Evans Mtepuka, told the court that the game rangers received information that the accused was secretly hunting for ivory potential buyer at the trading centre.

He said Kanyimbo committed a serious crime arguing that for him to possess ivory, an elephant was killed by the accused himself or another poacher.

"An elephant is one of special wild animals which attract tourists who rake in revenue to the government. It, therefore, becomes a big loss to the government when one elephant is killed just for its ivory," he said.

He therefore asked the court not to exercise lenience in punishing those in possession of ivory and poachers who hunt down elephants.

In his ruling, First Grade Magistrate Julius Kalambo said as a government arm, the Judiciary will join efforts in protecting the endangered wildlife so that government continues to maximize their benefits.

Kalambo, therefore, corroborated with Mtepuka that possession of specimen like ivory is enough evidence that an elephant was killed, only that it may not be the accused that killed the animal.

He observed that wanton killing of elephants in protected reserves has become rampant which he feared if the trend is not immediately stopped, it would threaten the endangered species with extinction.

"As the Judiciary, our role in protecting elephants from the hands of heartless poachers is to give harsh penalty to those accused of killing elephants and those in possession of specimen like ivory," Kalambo said.

He then sentenced the accused to four years jail term and ruled out any option of a fine in consideration of prosecution arguments.

The offense contravenes Section 110 of National Parks and Wild Life Act, which draws a maximum penalty of K5 million or a custodial sentence of 30 years.

Kanyimbo comes from Mahowe Village in the area of Traditional Authority (TA) Nthalire in the district.

Unconfirmed reports say an elephant was gunned down in north east of Nyika National Park, a few kilometres from Nthalire Trading Centre and villagers around the area made a rare feast out of the huge animal.

On August 1 this year Nyika National Park received 34 elephants from Liwonde National Park which authorities said increased the number of elephants in the park to 134.

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