The Itezhi Tezhi Magistrates Court has convicted and sentenced two men of Itezhi Tezhi to five years imprisonment for unlawful possession of Pangolin scales and ivory worth K114, 372.
This was after a case of Evaristo Mubamba aged 36, a fisherman of the Ikonkaile in Kaingu Chiefdom and Thomas Nalikena Lawrence aged 42, a businessman of Chibolya in the Itezhi Tezhi, who were charged with three offenses was brought before Magistrate Mugala Chalwe.
In the first count, Magistrate Chalwe charged Mubamba and Nalikena with unlawful possession of a prescribed trophy, a violation of Section 130(2) (a) of Zambia’s Wildlife Act No. 14 of 2014.
The allegation was that on April 7, 2022, in Itezhi Tezhi, the duo had in their possession a prescribed trophy, namely one pair of ivory weighing 30kg, without a certificate of authority of ownership.
In the second count, the duo was charged with unlawful possession of a protected trophy, in violation of section 130 (1) (a) of Zambia Wildlife Act No. 14 of 2015.
Allegations were that the duo had in their possession a protected trophy, namely 21 scales of Pangolin, on April 7, 2022 in Itezhi Tezhi district, without a certificate of ownership.
While in the third count, the duo were charged with unlawful possession of ammunition in violation of Section 130 (1) (a) of the Zambia Wildlife Act No. 14 of 2015.
Allegation were that on April 7, 2022, Mubamba and Nalikena in Itezhi Tezhi, while acting jointly, possessed assorted ammunition, including 4x.375 Rifle ammunition, 2x.360 Rifle ammunition, 1x live shotgun shell, and 1×7.62mm AK47 Rifle ammunition.
Itezhi Tezhi Wildlife Officer Kingsley Chimwaza, testified that on the relevant day, he overheard someone on the phone indicate that they were selling cassava.
Mr. Chimwaza explained that, knowing cassava is a code name for Ivory among illegal government trophy sellers, he showed interest to purchase the item.
He said that while transporting the alleged cassava to the buyer’s place, the accused car was stopped on the way, only to discover Ivory in the center of the charcoal-filled sack stowed in the boot.
Mr. Chimwaza added that a deeper search inside the car turned up pangolin scales and ammunition.
However, in his defence Mubambo testified that he was only engaged by Nalikena to convey the trophies to the buyer and was not the source of the pangolin scales and ivory.
On the other hand, Nalikena also argued that he was merely an agent instructed to find trophy customers.
It was at this point that Magistrate Chalwe found Mubamba guilty of all three charges, while Nalikena was exonerated on the second and third counts.
Magistrate Chalwe sentenced the defendants to five years in imprisonment for count one, five years in imprisonment for count two, and a fine of K1, 000 with a default sentence of 6 months for count three, all of which were effective as of the date of their arrest.
Mubamba and Nalikena appealed for mercy from the court in their mitigation, stating that they were first-time offenders who were married with children.
However, Magistrate Chalwe said she took into consideration all what they said in mitigation but that the offences they committed were of very serious nature and prevalent in Itezhi Tezhi District.