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State parades first witness in Rhino horns case

Witnesses have started parading in a case involving a Zambian national intercepted in Mchinji for allegedly possessing 22 pieces of Rhino horns worth over MK53 million.

The accused, 47-year-old Kelby Malambo, appeared before the Senior Resident Magistrate court on Tuesday morning for continuation of his case.

The state is expected to parade four witnesses.

Before commencement of the hearing, it was learnt through state prosecutor Levison Mangani that legal counsel for the accused has stopped representing him in the case.

However the court has is yet to be officially informed by the lawyer.

With pieces of the rhino horns laying on the floor in the courtroom as evidence, the state further stressed that it was ready to proceed with their first witness who was already available.

“The accused has however been complaining while at Maula Prison, that he feels unwell and was refusing to come to court saying he wants medical attention,” explained Mangani.

He further narrated to the court that there are chances that the accused wants to delay the case, as it was last in court in March and there have been a number of excuses in between.

In his defense, Malambo confirmed to the court that he was indeed unwell as he needed medical attention from the central hospital, not the prison’s clinic alone.

“My mind is not well set for continuation of trial and I’m requesting that the court should give me another day for the process to continue,” added Malambo.

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Senior Resident Magistrate Wanangwa Nyirenda, however gave guidance for hearing to  continue, even if the accused claims to be unwell, considering the pace the matter has already taken.

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The first witness paraded by the state was Head of Wildlife Crime Investigation Unit at Police Headquarters, Wellington Chimzakazi, who told the court that the accused was tracked at Mwami border in Mchinji on February 28 after getting a tip.

He narrated that an arrest of the suspect was made at the border’s filling station where he had two motorcycles carrying cartons and two laptop bags that were understood to have come to Malawi from Zambia through unchartered routes.

“The motorcycle operators were not told of the contents of the cartons and laptop bags but when we opened them, we discovered that they contained 22 pieces of raw ivory.”

“When the accused was asked for a response on the discovery, he did not answer, saying he will remain silent until he is represented,” added Chimzakazi.

He also told the court that he searched through the phone of the accused to analyze more information from what could be extracted.

Analysis of the messages and photos in the phone established that Malambo was in contact with someone from Hongkong and Malawi on how to transfer payments and the currency of the payment.

However upon completion of the examination by the state, Malambo failed to cross examine the state witness arguing that he was still unwell.

The court has therefore adjourned the case to June 22, to proceed with  the cross examination and parading of the other more witnesses.

Malambo who hails from Livingston City, Monze District in Zambia, stands accused of being found in possession of listed species, dealing in government trophy and importing specimen of listed species, to which he pleaded not guilty.

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