Three Zambians, including an army captain from the Zambian Defence Force, were each sentenced to 3.5 years in prison in Malawi Friday after they were convicted of wildlife trafficking.
The three, Captain Sandu Kalimbo, 44 from Sanjangu, John Sakala, 30, from Kanjala, and Ronald Mawale, 44, from Mtete were arrested on September 2, 2016 in the Malawian border town of Mchinji after being found in possession of three raw elephant tusks and complete leopard and lion skins.
The artefacts were reportedly poached from animals from South Luangwa National Park in Zambia.
The case was brought to court on September 5, where all three men faced charges of illegal possession of specimens of protected species and dealing in government trophies.
All three men were found guilty by Patrick Chirwa of the Lilongwe Magistrate Court and sentenced to 40 months imprisonment with hard labour with no option of a fine.
The Police expressed satisfaction with the sentence and also the cooperation with outside partners in prosecuting serious wildlife cases cases.
Assistant Superintendent from National Police Headquarters Prosecutions Office, Saddry Sambo, said the case was the first under a public-private litigation project.
He said, “This is the first concluded case which falls under a newly funded public-private litigation project for serious wildlife crime cases. We are very encouraged with the result which shows the determination of the government authorities to combat wildlife crime.”
On its part, Lilongwe Wildlife Trust, who are a key partner with government in fighting wildlife crime in Malawi, said it was pleasing to note that cooperation with government is bearing fruits.
Tommy Mhango, a senior official working for the Trust said: “This is a great example of where new Malawian initiatives to tackle wildlife crime are having an impact. In this case wildlife crime investigators and prosecutors worked hand in hand to put three significant wildlife traffickers behind bars. It is also encouraging to see that magistrates, in this case His Worship, Patrick Chirwa, are taking a strong stance against these serious organised crimes.”
Malawi apart from suffering from poachers is also used as a smuggling route by poachers to the outside world.
Recently Malawi Government burned hordes of ivory in a bold statement to the global world of its commitment in fighting wildlife crime and President Arthur Peter Mutharika appeared in multimedia messages speaking against poaching and general wildlife crime. (By Chikondi Chimala, Lilongwe, October 1,Mana)