Chinese nationals Xu Fujie and Huang Gin have been jailed for 30 years by the Tanzania Government for poaching wildlife.
This follows the ruling by the Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court which found them guilty of possessing 707 pieces of ivory worthy of USD 2.5 millions. These national were given a sentence of serving 30 years in prison or pay US 50 million dollars. They were arrested in November 2013.
A Sentence is a lesson to poachers
These two poachers met their fate yesterday in one of the heaviest sentences aimed at curbing the illegal trade. The Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court orders that Xu Fujie, 31, and Huang Gin, 51, pay a Tanzania Sh54.3 billion fine each or serve the lengthy jail term.
The jailing of the two is the latest in a series of heavy court judgments that has seen several Chinese and Tanzanians handed long jail sentences. This appears to be a renewed anti-poaching drive.
Resident Magistrate-in-charge Cyprian Mkeha had to adjourn the court session half way into pronouncing the judgment after one of the accussed, Xu Fujie, nearly collapsed in the dock, apparently shocked by the court’s decision. The court also ordered the confiscation of the ivory haul, and two cars that belonged to the poachers.
Magistrate Mkeha also convicted the Chinese of attempting to bribe the police and officers from the Wildlife department with Sh30.2 million. For this, they will serve five years in jail, and pay a Sh 1 million fine. However, the Chinese were acquitted of charges of possessing a bullet cartridge.
Magistrate Mkeha said the court had been satisfied with the testimony from nine prosecution witnesses and exhibits. “Considering the evidence adduced in court and the huge loss that the nation has suffered for the killing of 226 elephants, it is obvious the accused are a real threat to the elephant generation within the boundaries of our country,” said the magistrate. Evidence provided by nine prosecution witnesses proved the offence beyond all reasonable doubts, he said.
The convicts entered the country in 2010 and stayed for three years until 2013 when they were arrested at Kifaru Street, Mikocheni B in Kinondoni District, Dar es Salaam. The duo posed as garlic importers and marine product exporters. The seized tusks were found in sacks of garlic in the house where the two lived. They had killed, he said, a quarter of all elephants killed in the country between 2010 and 2013.
One of the witnesses, Mr Nchimbi told the court that there was sufficient reason to believe the two Chinese were ring leaders and financiers of an elephant poaching syndicate in the country.
The dramatic arrest of the convicts was led by the then Tourism minister Khamis Kagasheki, who found the tusks cleverly mixed with shell and garlic to avoid suspicion. The tusks the duo were caught with weighed 1.8 tonnes and had an estimated value of $3.1 million (Sh5.4 billion).
The 706 pieces of ivory means about 226 elephant were killed to get the haul. Investigators, neighbours of the Chinese who witnessed the search and wildlife department officers were among the people who testified in the case.
Investigators worked for a month following a tip off that huge quantities of elephant tusks were being ferried from Lindi, Mtwara and Ruvuma regions to Dar es Salaam and sold to Chinese nationals at a Kinondoni Biafra in the city. The poachers had maintained innocence throughout the hearing of the case.
The lucrative Asian black market for rhino horn, used in traditional medicine, and ivory is blamed for a boom in poaching across Africa.