Judges cut 10-year jail term for ivory crime

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A 10-YEAR prison term given to a Zambezi region resident after he was found guilty of possessing two elephant tusks was too harsh, two judges have ruled in an appeal judgement delivered in the Windhoek High Court.

Fosta Maulu was found guilty of a serious offence, but when the value of the ivory he possessed is considered a sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment for the offence he committed is too harsh, judge Dinnah Usiku said in a judgement on an appeal that Maulu lodged against his sentence.

Maulu was arrested on 27 August 2021, after he had been found in possession of two elephant tusks valued at about N$20 800 at a village in the Bwabwata National Park.

He denied guilt on a charge of unlawful possession of wildlife products when his trial started before magistrate Barry Mufana in the Katima Mulilo Magistrate’s Court in April 2022.

Maulu was convicted after he admitted to the magistrate that members of the Namibian Defence Force found elephant tusks in his possession.

He also told the court a fellow resident of the village where he lived had asked him if he knew of someone who could supply elephant tusks to a woman who had made an enquiry about ivory.

Maulu said he and the fellow village resident started to look for someone who could supply them with ivory, and after a couple of days found a person named Nyambe, who had the elephant tusks with which he was caught later.

The magistrate sentenced Maulu to 10 years’ imprisonment and also declared him a prohibited immigrant, after Maulu informed him that he originated from Angola.

In the appeal judgement, Usiku said the magistrate “overemphasised the seriousness of the offence at the peril of the personal circumstances” of Maulu, who was a first-time offender at the age of 30 and the father of three minor children.

Usiku, with judge Herman January agreeing with her decision, set aside Maulu’s sentence and replaced it with a sentence of six years’ imprisonment, of which two years are suspended for a period of five years, on condition that Maulu is not convicted of the unlawful possession of controlled wildlife products committed during the period of suspension.

Defence lawyer Mbanga Siyomunji represented Maulu in the appeal.

The state was represented by Johannes Kalipi.

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