New Era (Namibia)

N$20,000 fine for ivory smugglers

Chinese nationals Zhang Ruhe, 60, and Xinxi Xi, 47, who were arrested with elephant tusks in their possession in December 2016.

Maria Amakali

Windhoek-Chinese nationals Xinxi Xue and Ruhe Zhang were fined N$20,000 each by the court last week for their attempt to smuggle ivory to China.

The two men were fined following their confession to the court in which they admitted guilt to the offences. The 48-year-old Xinxi and 61-year old Ruhe were detained on December 7, 2016 at Kapps Farm roadblock while on their way to Hosea Kutako International Airport. On that day they were to board a plane to China.

The police on duty discovered 12 pieces of ivory weighing 1.10kg worth N$1,005.80 and a seal skin among their belongings. The elephant tusks were cut into pieces and concealed in instant coffee tins.
The weight of the tusks, personal circumstances and the seriousness of the offence played a major role in sentencing of the pair.

“Each accused is sentenced to pay a fine of N$20,000 or to serve two years’ imprisonment in default of the said payment,” explained the magistrate Venessa Stanley.

During her sentencing Stanley said a person is permitted by law to carry processed ivory weighing less than 1kg. “In the case at hand, the accused were jointly found with ivory slightly in excess of this permitted weight,” said the magistrate.

The pair were found guilty by the court on three charges of unlawfully dealing in controlled wildlife products and unlawful possession of controlled wildlife products, of which all charges are read with Section 4 of the Controlled Wildlife Products and Trade Act 9 of 2000. Earlier the duo came clean, stating they were honestly found in possession of the controlled wildlife products without a permit. The further stated that although they had intentions of transporting the ivory back home to China, they knew very well that such export of the product was illegal in Namibia.

The two men were in Namibia on working visas and were employed by a local construction company.