Ivory smugglers confess

Windhoek-Two Chinese nationals on trial in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court for their alleged involvement in wildlife crimes have admitted guilt. Xinxi Xue, 48, and Ruhe Zhang, 61, informed the court through an interpreter yesterday that they were indeed guilty of the charges brought against them.

The prosecution accused the pair of unlawfully dealing in controlled wildlife products without permit and of unlawfully exporting controlled wildlife products without permit, read with Section 4 of Controlled Wildlife Product and Trade Act of 2000.

I admit that I was found in possession of the controlled wildlife products without a permit. I further admit that I committed the offence and I take full responsibility for my actions, Xinxi said in his written explanation.

The charges pertain to an incident on December 7, 2016 when the police found 12 pieces of ivory and sealskin among their belongings. The elephant tusks had been cut into pieces and concealed in instant coffee tins.

Xinxi and his co-accused were arrested at the roadblock near Kapps Farm while on their way to Hosea Kutako International Airport. They were on working visas and were employed by a local construction company at the time.

I admit that I had the intention of transporting the ivory to China and I further admit that the attempt to export was unlawful, Ruhe confessed.

Their defence attorney, Mbushandje Ntinda, pleaded with the court to be merciful in its sentencing, given that the pair were first-time offenders and had shown remorse for what they did.

It is evident that they have to live with what they have done, given that now they will be having convictions to their names, Ntinda noted and proposed a fine of N$20,000 each to be imposed on Xinxi and his co-accused.

With the guilty plea from the two accused on record, Magistrate Venessa Stanley consequently found them guilty of the charges and postponed the matter to Thursday for sentencing. The accused men are out on bail.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia