Friday, 27 January 2017

NAMIBIA: Namibian Rhino Poachers Remanded

Three suspected Namibian rhino poachers were on Monday remanded in custody after their initial appearance in court on charges of illegal possession of controlled wildlife products and hunting specially protected game.

The suspects were arrested on Friday near the central Namibian town of Otavi for illegal possession of three rhino horns, a loaded 9mm pistol and seven rounds of ammunition for a .303 hunting rifle.

According to records from the Otavi Magistrate’s Court, Japyangula Tjihange, Tjingee Kaukamburua and Paulus Tjambiru were arrested at the end of a highway chase which ensued after they evaded and escaped from a police-manned checkpoint 40km west of Otavi.

The court documents show that the police were forced to chased after a white Toyota double cab pick-up in which the suspects were travelling after it failed to stop at the checkpoint. As the police were catching up with the vehicle, one passengers reportedly threw out a bag which, on inspection, was found to contain freshly sawn-off rhino horns.

All three horns were described as fresh with indications of moisture in the fibres as well as traces of blood. When the police stop the vehicle, two of its five occupants escaped and are still at large.

A search of the vehicle led to the recovery of blankets, water containers, tinned foods and a camping tent. Police pleaded with the court for more time to investigate, saying the nature of personal effects found in the possession of the accused suggested that they could have been returning from a poaching expedition.

In remanding the suspects to mid-September, regional magistrate Clara Mwilima said this period would allow the police to conclude relevant investigations and give the accused persons time to seek legal representation if they so wished.