The Senior Resident Magistrate Court in Lilongwe has reserved September 7 as the date for making a ruling on whether or not Zambian national Kelby Malambo has a case to answer in a wildlife crime case that he was taken to court for.
The state has since closed its prosecution after parading two more witnesses in the matter where Malambo is suspected to have been found in possession of specimen of listed species, dealing in government trophy and importing specimen of listed species without producing valid permits.
All the offences are contrary to regulations set in the National Parks and Wildlife Act and the 22 pieces of ivory in mention weigh 64.902 kilograms and are valued at MK53.5 million.
Final state witnesses that were paraded on Tuesday were Fyson Suwedi of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife and Chaswa Banda, of the Wildlife Environmental Crimes Investigation Unit at Police Headquarters.
In his testimony, Suwedi told the court that the raw ivory which he examined in the presence of the Senior Resident Magistrate and both parties to the case, were from five elephants.
Banda on his part narrated in court that he was part of a team that arrested the suspect at Mwami border Total filling station in Mchinji where he was with two motorcycle operators who carried three cartons and two laptop bags, all containing the wildlife specimen.
He further explained that while being led by their team leader, Wellington Chidzakazi, they arrested Malambo and took him to Mchinji police station to question him of the items he was carrying and why he used uncharted routes to get to Malawi from Zambia. Their search revealed that Malambo had concealed 22 pieces of raw ivory in the bags and cartons he carried using the motorcycle operators.
Upon being questioned as someone the police had been keeping tabs on, Malambo insisted that he did not know who the motorcycle operators were and refused to answer any further questions in exercise of his right to remain silent.
During cross examination, lawyer for the accused, Enoch Chibwana, wondered if the Interpol was involved in investigations considering that the matter concerns two countries.
He further asked if the police investigator (Chaswa Banda) was aware that another person known as Steve was also involved in the ordeal.
“This issue arose when the prosecution was being examined that according to the suspect, the ivory does not belong to him and it is a third person (Steve) who hired him to collect the items from Zambia without a description of the actual contents,” explained Chibwana.
Senior Resident Magistrate Wanangwa Nyirenda has since guided that the state and defense must make submissions on case to answer by 31 August and a ruling will be made on 7 September.
Kelby Malambo who was arrested on 28 February this year is 47 years old and he hails from Monze district in Livingstone city, Zambia.