Chinese hunters fined for elephant meat

Thursday, September 28, 2017 – 13:45
WINDHOEK – A Windhoek magistrate yesterday fined two Chinese nationals for illegally possessing and attempting to export 14 pieces of elephant meat after their trophy hunting expedition on Monday.
The self-confessed suspects, Li Qiang, 47, and Zhang Weiyou, 55, have been ordered to pay N$50 000 or face a prison term of 12 months, respectively. The duo testified in mitigation that they have minor children and are both employed by China-based Tianhe Investment Corporation, where they each receive up to N$75 000 monthly salaries.
Qiang testified that he paid approximately U$75 000 (about N$1,1 million) and that Weiyou had only accompanied him. Their lawyer, Christian Nambahu, argued that the amount paid had a direct economic benefit to the Namibian society and that they are not a threat to society or Namibian wildlife.  He added that a legal hunting permit has been issued to his client.
Nambahu argued that his clients are excellent candidates for a non-custodial sentence, seeing as they are first offenders. Prosecutor, Joseph Andreas, said that the meat did not have economical value in Namibia, but the charges in regards to the provisions of the Controlled Wildlife Act are of a serious nature.
“The penalty provides for a fine not exceeding N$200 000 or imprisonment not exceeding 20 years. It has become a concern that theses offences are contravened on a daily basis by Chinese nationals. A deterrent sentence would not only deter the accused persons but to would-be offenders,” Andreas said.
In her judgement, Magistrate Vanessa Stanley maintained that the fact that the suspects pleaded guilty is a sign of remorse. She noted that because the value of the meat has little or no impact on the economy, this has swayed the court towards leniency.