Mzuzu — Rumphi First Grade Magistrate Court Monday sentenced four men to two-and-a-half years' Imprisonment with Hard Labour (IHL) for poaching in Nyika National Park.
Rumphi Police Publicist Tupeliwe Kabwilo told Malawi News Agency (Mana) that the four were charged with entering, conveying a weapon (two locally-made shotguns) and hunting in a protected area without a permit.
Wildlife rangers at Chilinda Camp spotted the four men armed with guns inside the park and managed to arrest and hand them to Rumphi Police Station on June 3,2018.
Kabwilo said special prosecutor on game related cases Charles John Mabethi, who is an Assistant Parks and Wildlife Officer, asked the court to offer stiff punishment.
"Mabethi argued that the four men planned the offence as they mobilised two guns and four live ammunition they were caught with.
"He added that the men mobilised themselves into a strong team of seven including the three that escaped which shows that if they were not stopped they could have killed many animals," Kabwilo said.
In mitigation, the four convicts pleaded with the court to exercise leniency citing family responsibility as they all have wives and children to fend for and pay school fees for.
First Grade Magistrate Cuthbert Phiri concurred with the State and slapped them with 18 months for entering, 24 months for conveying a weapon and 30 months IHL for hunting in a protected area without permit.
The sentences for all the three counts will run concurrently.
The four convicts include a Zambian Stadwin Nyirongo, 69, of Kapilintunza Village in Traditional Authority (TA) Miyombe's area in the neighbouring Zambia and others are Daniel Kaonga, 31, of Tchayasimbi Village Denis Kaonga, 58, and Jackson Kaonga, 53, of Kajikiti Village in TA Nthalire's in Chitipa District.