Mzimba First Grade Magistrate Court has sentenced two Zambian nationals to 4 years imprisonment with hard labour (IHL) for illegal possession of ivory and handed a one- year suspended sentence to a Zambian motorbike operator for transporting the ivory.
Eliza Mtonga 25, and Gideon Ngwenya 37 both Zambian nationals, were arrested together with the motorbike operator, Richard Phiri, 47 on 16 April, 2018 at Jenda Trading Center in Mzimba where Mtonga and Ngwenya intended to sale the ivory.
Police prosecutor, Assistant Superintendent, Saddrey Sambo told the court that police found Phiri with 16 pieces of ivory sealed in two cartons and mentioned Mtonga and Ngwenya as the owners of the ivory.
“Then police officers arrested Mtonga and Ngwenya together with Phiri,” said Sambo adding that the ivory pieces are worth K33 million.
Sambo asked the court to give the culprits a stiffer penalty, saying the offence committed contributes to depletion of elephants in the country’s wildlife parks.
In mitigation, Mtonga said she has an ulcer in her uterus which was supposed to be operated on and she presented a medical report from a private clinic on the same.
On his part, Ngwenya said he cares for his children and relatives while Phiri said he had just finished his first-degree at the University of Zambia.
In his ruling, First Grade Magistrate, George Longwe said he would not consider the mitigation factors describing the offence as a serious one, saying being found in possession of 16 pieces of ivory translates to killing of four elephants.
He then sentenced Eliza Mtonga and Gideon Ngweya to four years imprisonment each while Phiri earned a one year suspended sentence.
Ngwenya is of Bokisi Village, Traditional Authority Mwase while Mtonga and Phiri hail from Kayerere Village in TA Kapichira in Zambia.