Written by MacDonald Thom
The High Court in Mzuzu on Tuesday ordered the burning of 781 pieces of ivory which two brothers in Rumphi were keeping.
The brothers, Patrick and Chancy Kaunda, on 30th April pleaded guilty to charges of ivory trade and money laundering and were just waiting for sentencing.
Judge Dingiswayo Madise ordered that the two should pay a total fine of K5 million or in default serve a seven-year jail term.
According to the sources who attended the court proceedings, the Judge also ordered that the ivory, weighing 2.6 tonnes, should be destroyed through burning within 20 days from the day of sentencing.
Senior State Advocate Neverson Chisiza asked the court to give the two a fine of K4.5 billion or in default serve an 18-year jail term.
The Judge opted for assessment of the convicts’ income to determine the value of the fine.
The truck carrying the ivory was intercepted on May 24, 2013 between Bwengu and Phwezi in Rumphi.
In an interview on Thursday, Director of National Parks and Wildlife, Brighton Kumchedwa, said the department was happy that the case was concluded.
“We are very happy because we have come to the conclusion of this case. The fine is the highest in the history of wildlife in Malawi. The court has gone even further to issue an order that the 781 pieces of ivory should be forfeited to government and also that it should be destroyed by fire in public within 20 days.”
He said government would comply with the order to burn the ivory.
“We have to comply so that the burning should take place within the said 20 days. We will try to see how best that can be handled; suffice to say that there are certain processes that have to be fulfilled before the ivory is burnt. For instance, we have to put a serial number to each of the 781 pieces,” Kumchedwa said.