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Cops, soldiers entangled in wildlife crimes

2021-06-10  Albertina Nakale

Cops, soldiers entangled in wildlife crimes
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The environment ministry has condemned the involvement of law enforcement officers in wildlife crimes.

In the latest incident, four suspects, including a police officer and a soldier, were arrested on 6 June 2021 after they were found in possession of two rhino horns concealed in 10 kilogramme Bokomo and Bakpro flower packages with the intent to sell them without a permit.

The suspects are police officer Anooshike Nuunyango (34), Ndiinekela Kamati (43), soldiers Lisias Iyambo (47), and Paulus Mavulu (41).

The suspects appeared on Tuesday in the Ohangwena Magistrate’s Court and were denied bail. Their case was postponed to 30 August 2021.

Ministry of environment spokesperson, Romeo Muyunda was quick to acknowledge the continued support and involvement of the Namibian police and the Namibian Defence Force (NDF) in fighting wildlife crime in general and in particular for apprehending the suspects and prevention of illegal killing of wild animals, especially rhinos, elephants and pangolins.

“We understand that in most systems, there will be unethical individuals. Namibia can be proud that the tiny minority of corrupt officials are pursued, investigated, and apprehended with vigour and determination. The law must now take its course,” said Muyunda.

Government’s anti-poaching effort, to fight the multi-billion dollar syndicate, has placed officers in the country’s largest national parks, including Bwabwata and Etosha, where these endangered species are found. 

However, corrupt officers have used their proximity as a chance to get involved in poaching syndicates.

So far this year, four rhinos and one elephant have been poached. The four rhinos were poached on private farms while the jumbo was poached in a conservancy in the Otjozondjupa region.

Another incident, a police operation on 4 June 2021, conducted at Amarika village in the Omusati region led to the arrest of three suspects found in possession of a 303 hunting type of rifle, 20 rounds of live ammunition, and a panga.

The suspects are Johannes Valombola Kefas (24), Gustav Tukaleni (29) and Ruben David Nuuyoma (28), who were charged with illegal possession of a firearm.

The suspects are also charged with conspiracy to hunt a specially protected species (rhino). 

Two of the suspects were arrested in 2020 on similar crimes and were out on bail.

Kefas was previously arrested for possession of a pair of rhino horns while Nuuyoma was charged with conspiracy to hunt a specially protected species (rhino). All three suspects appeared in Okahao Magistrate’s Court and remain in custody.

Two other suspects were arrested in Otjiwarongo after they were found with pangolin skins that they offered for sale without a permit.

The suspects are Elias Elias (30) and Petrus Nekaku (31). The duo also appeared in the Otjiwarongo Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday and was denied bail.

A suspect was arrested on 2 June after being found in possession of two elephant tusks without a permit.

Johannes Nyangana (53) is charged with violating the Controlled Wildlife Product and Trade Act. The suspect appeared in Mukwe periodical court on 7 June 2021 and remains in custody. On 6 June, two suspects were arrested for being in possession of two elephant tusks and one live pangolin without a permit at Kangumbe Communal Farm in the Kavango East region. The suspects appeared in the Rundu Magistrate’s Court on 7 June 2021.

Another suspect was arrested in Windhoek on 6 June for having a giraffe skin, which he offered for sale without a permit. 

The suspect is Mateus Iileka (49).

2021-06-10  Albertina Nakale

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