Arusha — Natural Resources and Tourism minister Hamisi Kingwangalla confirmed yesterday that he did indeed say that he would have killed on the spot a poacher he accused of killing giraffe.
Asked whether he was quoted accurately, Dr Kigwangalla was emphatic that this is what he said, adding that had he met in the forest the "poacher" he identified only as Haidary, he would have shot him dead straight away.
"Mr Haidary and his accomplices went to hunt giraffe in Kisarawe. It's shocking that one can have the temerity to slaughter giraffe, a national symbol, in this era of President John Pombe Magufuli.
"This is disrespect of the highest order. A person leaves his wife and children at home, and goes into the forest to kill giraffe while we assume the role of spectators. If I bump into him in the forest I will shoot him dead," Dr Kigwangalla said in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday while describing how agencies under the Natural Resources and Tourism ministry had seized 338 pieces of ivory worth Sh4.4 billion, which he added came from at least 117 elephants.
He told The Citizen yesterday that he had been quoted correctly, and asked this reporter to repeat what he said.
Dr Kigwangalla's remarks were the latest in a series of controversial utterances made by government officials in recent weeks.
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Those who have been in the spotlight include Kigamboni District Commissioner Ruth Msafiri and Mbeya Regional Commissioner Albert Chalamila.
Mr Chalamila said people who stoned the official vehicle of the Kyela district commissioner recently deserved to be "beaten up the whole night", adding that they had "chosen a violent death".
Ms Msafiri, for her part, is on record saying theft suspects should have their legs broken to prevent them from stealing again because the courts always set them free.
Legal and Human Rights Centre executive director Anna Henga yesterday criticised leaders who incite the public to take the law into their own hands.
"This contrary to the principle of the rule of law, whose major pillar is the independence of the courts. When you say that people should have their legs broken, you are undermining the independence of the courts," she said.
Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition national coordinator Onesmo Olengurumwa said the adverse effects of such "reckless" remarks have already started to be seen.
"Such leaders should be arrested and prosecuted for inciting unrest and lawlessness in society," he said.