Two members of the Zambian air force have been arrested in Lusaka, Zambia’s capital for being in possession of Rhino horns.
The officers were Flight Sergeant Masheke Mutemwa Chripine and Captain Mwiya Masheke. Both officers will appear in court on Wednesday alongside two other suspects who are likely to face up to 25 years in jail for the theft of the horn which weighed 3.9 kg.
The Department of National Parks and Wildlife said in a statement;
“The Department of National Parks and Wildlife has arrested four people, among them, two Zambia Air Force (ZAF) officials for illegal possession of rhino horns. The quartet was cornered at Embassy Park Mall in Lusaka’s Chawama township with the contraband weighing up to 3.9 kilogrammes. The four, all male suspects, are Nefuma Taleni Stefanus, a Namibian, Masheke Mutemwa Chripine, a Zambian working for ZAF as flight sergeant, Mwiya Masheke, a Zambian also working for ZAF a captain, and Martin Maimba a Zambian and a businessman of Lusaka
“The suspects are charged with unlawful possession of a pair of rhino horns contrary to Section 130 wildlife Act No 14 of 2015 of the Laws of Zambia and will appear in court today. If found guilty, the suspects will serve a minimum jail sentence of between five and 25 years for first offenders. Second and subsequent offenders get stiffer punishment. The offence has no option of a fine.”
Cross-border poaching is quite common between Zambia and Zimbabwe. It has led to the death of a number of Zambian citizens who are allegedly believed to be recruited by Chinese nationals who use these horns to create ornaments and medicines.
Zambian wildlife is said to be reducing drastically as it took a lot of time to close its doors on poaching. However, Zimbabwe which has considerably more wildlife is prone to being attacked by poachers who do not find what they are looking for in Zambia.
Zambia and Zimbabwe have a porous border on the Zambezi river and Lake Kariba which allows for easy smuggling and other cross-border crimes.