13 arrests on wildlife crime charges

Staff Writer

Earlier this month, 13 people were arrested on wildlife crime charges.

According to Romeo Muyunda, spokesperson for the Ministry of Environment, Forestry, and Tourism (MEFT), 11 of the arrested suspects were related to the recent discovery of poached rhino carcasses in the Etosha National Park, and the other two suspects were found in possession of a live pangolin.

“All the arrests and confiscated items are suspected to be linked to the recent rhino poaching incidents in Etosha National Park. The joint operation confiscated items such as two vehicles, five rifles, ammunition, axes, knifes as well as cash close to N$ 50 000 found in the possession of the accused persons during their arrests. These items are subject to in-depth investigations to establish positive links with the carcasses discovered in the Etosha National Park,” said Muyunda.

11 black rhinos were found without horns in an ongoing operation in the park last month.

He said all the 11 accused persons are remanded in custody and their cases have been postponed to, 24 August, 8 August and on 3 October 2022 in the Ondangwa, Tsumeb and Okahao Magistrate’s Courts, for further investigations.

Muyunda also stated that the suspects, who range in age from 18 to 45 years are being charged with four different rhino poaching-related crimes.

Munynda said in a statement that two Angolan nationals were arrested yesterday after being discovered in possession of a live pangolin.

”The suspects offered to sell the pangolin to an undercover law enforcement official. The Operation was carried out by the Blue Rhino Task Team, Protected Resources Division of the Namibian Police and MEFT,” said Muyunda.

He went on to say that the suspects have yet to be charged and will appear before the Okahandja Magistrate’s Court, and that the pangolin was taken in for rehabilitation before being released back into the wild.

Furthermore, Muyunda stated that this is a clear indication that joint law enforcement operations between the MEFT, Namibian Police, Namibia Defence Force, and Intelligence, as well as investigations conducted through the Blue Rhino Task Force are yielding results, and he cautioned that the law has been amended to increase penalties for poaching.

“It is also important to note that for almost all rhino carcasses discovered, there are suspects arrested. This should serve as a caution to would be poachers that they may be successful in killing our rhinos or other wildlife species, but our relentless law enforcement officials will definitely catch them. Namibia has increased fines for poaching to25 million dollar from N$200,000 and prison sentences have risen to 25 years from 20 years,” he added.

By Observer