Daily News (Tanzania)

Three jailed 40 years as foreigner pays 110m/- fine over govt trophies

A MEMBER of the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces (TPDF) and two others yesterday received 40-year jail terms each, while a Chinese national escaped 20-year custodial sentence after paying 110m/- fine, for unlawful possession and dealing in government trophies.

Before Resident Magistrate Maira Kasonde at Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court in Dar es Salaam, the TPDF member, Sergeant George Senda, Nia Bakari and Shafii Muhibu, were convicted of unlawful dealing and possession of ten pieces of elephant tusks, valued at 198m/-.

The Chinese national, Liu Xiu Feng (40), decided to pay 110m/- fine to escape the 20-year-jail term after being found in possession of two lion teeth, which are government trophies worth 11,029,900/-, without a permit from the Director of Wildlife. In the case involving the TPDF member, the Magistrate ordered each of the convict to go to jail for 20 years on each count without providing an option of fine. He, however, directed the convicts to remain behind bars for 20 years only as the two sentences would run concurrently.

A team of prosecutors from the Director of Pubic Prosecutions (DPP)’s Office, Mutalemwa Kinshenyi, Batilda Mushi and Eliya Kalonge told the court that on June 2, 2016 at Mbagala area in Temeke District, the accused were found with government trophies without a permit. The court was also told that between May 25 and June 2, 2016, in Dar es Salaam and Lindi regions, the accused unlawfully accepted and transporteda trophy dealer’s licence from the Director of Wildlife.

As regard to the case involving the Chinese national, Principal Resident Magistrate Huruma Shaidi, who was hearing the case, convicted him on his own plea of guilty of the offence charged by the prosecution. After such conviction, he sentenced the Chinese to either pay ten times the market value of the teeth, whichever the greater is or go to jail for 20 years in default of paying the fine.

The convict opted to pay the fine in question. The Magistrate imposed such a sentence, warning that all foreigners coming into Tanzania must abide by the country’s laws and that the court has the duty of taking steps to protect the country’s fauna and will not allow such people to come and harvest the animals.

He took into consideration aggravating factors presented by the prosecution, led by Senior State Attorney Mutalemwa Kishenyi and State Attorney Wankyo Simon that the offence under which Feng was convicted of was very serious.

The prosecution requested the court to punish the offender severely to serve as a lesson not only to him, but also other foreigners who would be tempted to commit the offence. Lion, according to the prosecution, is among endangered species. Therefore, the trial attorneys charged, the court should provide a sentence to protect the county’s natural resources and the national economy as a whole.

During presentation of mitigating factors, advocate Issa Mlindoko had requested the court to provide a lenient sentence to his client, considering that his move to admit to the charge has saved the court’s time and other inconveniences. He submitted that the accused, as an engineer, was so important in the society and that he has several dependants, including his wife and mother.

As a first offender, the advocate went on – it would be justified for the court to sentence his client to pay a fine instead of a jail term. The prosecution had earlier told the court that the Chinese committed the offence of unlawful possession of the lion teeth on February 7, 2018 at Julius Nyerere International Airport (JN