The Flexible Anti Smuggling Team (FAST) of the Malawi Revenue Authority has seized 781 pieces of Ivory from a Malawian registered truck which was coming from Tanzania and bound for Lilongwe.
Police said they have the driver, who is also the owner of the truck in custody to help them with investigations to determine the final destination and owner of the contraband, Northern Region Police Operations Officer Isaac Maluwa told the media.
The Truck, a Scania registration number KA 4948 belongs to Chancy Kaunda, had a consignment of 300 bags of cement and the ivory was hidden under the bags.
The Truck which was coming from the Mbeya region of Tanzanian passed through Songwe border post and the owner, who was also driving the truck paid duty for the cement amounting to MK300,656.59.
The ivory has since been handed over to the department of Parks and Wildlife, which has indicated that the ivory will be disposed following CITES regulations.
The value of ivory is not known but Parks and Wildlife officials said in Malawi a kilogramme of ivory costs US$60.
But on the international market ivory prices range from US$55 to US$300 depending on length, width and thickness.
MRA deputy director Corporate Affairs Steven Kapoloma said during the offloading and handover ceremony of the ivory at MRA warehouse at Luwinga Industrial area in Mzuzu on Friday that the truck was intercepted on May 24, 2013 between Bwengu and Phwezi.
“This is smuggling at its worst and it means over 300 Elephants were killed,” Kapoloma said.
Kapoloma brushed off arguments that there is laxity at Songwe border post saying MRA officers physically checked the Truck and gave it a go ahead after duty was paid.
“The seizure of the ivory enhances MRA’s need to have the FAST on Malawi’s roads to tame smuggling,” he said.
Kapoloma said the confiscated Truck has been charged with Conveyance of smuggled goods of which MRA Commissioner General will determine the appropriate penalty depending on the gravity of case, knowledge and awareness of the conveyer.
Wildlife and Parks Divisional Manager George Nxumayo said the governments of Malawi and Tanzania will liaise in order to dispose the ivory following CITES regulations.
“We would like to thank MRA for the professional job they have done. Elephants are an endangered species hence they are protected by law,” Nxumayo said.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :