The Suspects under custody
The Suspects under custody

The seven suspects, six South Africans and one Zimbabwean national that were last Friday arrested by the Zambia Wildlife Authority for attempting to smuggle wildlife to South Africa yesterday appeared in count in Monze for plea.

They appeared in court  on charges of illegal possession of firearm, ammunition, forgery, giving false information to investigation officers and they all denied the charges.

ZAWA officers on Friday smashed an alleged endangered wildlife smuggling syndicate, arresting six South Africans and seizing a specially equipped light aircraft, vehicles, weapons and veterinary drugs.

The men detained include hunters and game capturers from Gauteng, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and North West.

They were arrested in a military operation in southern province near Lake Kariba.

Zambian air force personnel and ZAWA officers arrested the six South Africans and a Zimbabwean as they were allegedly off-loading 12 sable antelope calves from a trailer and preparing to put them into a Piper Navajo Chieftain aircraft, parked under trees near a dirt landing strip in the bush.

Each of the animals can be sold for about $1-million.

The suspects who were nabbed at Katokota airstrip in Gwembe include six South African national and one Zimbabwean.

One of the suspects was identified as Francial, a wildlife relocator who said he had come to Zambia to search for greener pastures. The suspect said they were moving the animals from Lusaka to a ranch in Livingstone, but ZAWA officers suspected there was some anomaly in the reason given. Francial said he didn’t know the place he was taking the animals to, he just knew the source herein being Swanvest, at Kyindu Farms. They had an animal movement permit which had some inconsistencies.

Other suspects include Damia Leroux, a driver aged 25 of age. The other is Peter Burger, also driver who said he had no idea where the animals were going but they know where the animals were coming from. Peter Schalk Grobler 32, the manager, said that he just knew Yaku from Swanvest, where the animals were coming from and did not know the place he was taking the animals to.

Munyaradzi Tapera, 36, general worker from Zimbabwe said he had no idea and was working under instructions.

The animals were delivered and released into Munda Wanga sanctuary for observation and rehabilitation. However, five antelopes have died so far due to stress.

The Suspects in custody
The Suspects in custody

Zambian authorities claim the pilot of the aircraft, which is said to be owned by a Pretoria game company, did not file flight plans, failed to declare the cargo and had not cleared customs.

South African Civil Aviation Authority spokesman Kabelo Ledwaba said pilots were required to file flight plans.

“Any noncompliance with South African civil aviation regulations will be investigated.” The Times Newspaper of South Africa claims that until last month the aircraft was registered to Unique Air. It was then sold to Phofolo Small Game Specialists.

Unique Air operations manager Thomas Nel confirmed the sale, saying that the aircraft had been owned by Unique Asset Hire and operated by Unique Air Charter.

“It was maintained by Aircraft Maintenance International. The aircraft was sold on September 28 by Aircraft Maintenance International, with the sale concluded on September 29. The new owners have 30 days in which to register the aircraft in their name.”

He said Unique Air Charter, Unique Asset Hire and Aircraft Maintenance International had no knowledge of the aircraft’s movements after it left Nelspruit, where it was handed over to its new owners. Johanna Grobler, of Phofolo Small Game Specialists, denied owning the aircraft but declined to comment further.

The two pilots, who are South African, are being held at Woodlands police station in Lusaka. The others, including two Pretoria brothers, are at a police station in Monze. The brothers’ father last night said the situation was a “complete misunderstanding”.

“My sons are not criminals and are definitely not game smugglers. I have spoken to them. They are in good spirits and holding up under the circumstances.”

He would not comment on why the animals were reportedly being loaded onto an aircraft at a remote airstrip.

Sakabilo Kalembwe, a Zambia Wildlife Authority spokesman, said that when the South Africans entered the country on October 5, they aroused suspicion because their permits stated that they were in the country to fish but they were found to be carrying dart guns.

“Who goes fishing with dart guns?” he asked. “Our authorities flagged them and alerted the game reserves and law-enforcement authorities. Believing that the men might be involved in wildlife crimes, their movements were monitored,” Kalembwe said.

“Information we have shows this is not the first time that these men have been involved in these kinds of activities. We followed them to a ranch where 40 sable antelope were being kept. We watched them load the 12 animals, five of which have subsequently died, into a trailer and drive off. They were meant to go to Livingstone, but didn’t.”

The men were arrested at Korta, in the Gwebe district.

“When the suspects realised that they were surrounded, they threw away a handgun and ammunition. We recovered these along with tranquillisers and the dart guns.”

Kalembwe said the possibility of the use of the aircraft in other smuggling operations between Zambia and South Africa was being investigated.

“This is the most complex wildlife smuggling syndicate, which involved a specially fitted aircraft, that we have uncovered.” Kalembwe said the Zambian and South African authorities were collaborating on the investigation.

Kalembwe said the animals had originally been bought at an auction but no permission had been granted for them to be exported.

One of the rescued Sable been integrated into Munda Wanga
One of the rescued Sable been integrated into Munda Wanga
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52 COMMENTS

  1. Kudos to the Zambia Wildlife Authority and all investigative agencies who collaborated to arrest these criminals. Amidst the gloom economic picture painted, it is refreshing to know that we have some good men and women who are patriotic and committed to securing our natural resources not only for the present but also for the future generation. Patriotic Zedians , you have made mu day. Thanks.

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  2. I hope we won’t hear that DPP has entered a Nolle. I think Masebo was right after all. When she was Tourism Minister, she said some light aircraft where landing in National Parks stealing our animals. Her utterances were widely condemned because she was from the so called Cartel band.

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  3. The South African on the left looks like he is sh1tting himself with fear!

    Well done all law enforcement agencies involved in this. It looks like a proper investigation was undertaken and the perpetrators have been well and truly caught without a leg to stand on.

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  4. Great work ZAWA, Police and ZAF. Now we should go after the Vantriligias mafia (Whatever the correct spelling is)

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  5. If one antelope costs $ 1m why are short of forex…selling copper forget! can we go game ranching please!

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  6. While it is acknowledged that these criminals were arrested it is noot so good a job! How did you fail to properly care for the antelopes?Suppose you discover that the charge for antempted smuggling of wild life is not so severe and the owners of the antelope sue you for the dead animals are you going to repay them? How can you fail to look after only 12 antelopes and you end up loosing 5 out 12?! Doesn’t look like an efficient operation!

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  7. This thing has been going on for a long time. This time someone did not get his or her cut especially at a high level. We go to SA to look at our own animals in those ranches. ZAWA should make it easy for Zambians to do this kind of business. If we can look after goats what can stop us from looking after monkeys or antelopes?

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  8. There are alot of criminals in Zambia.Zambia can develop thru tourism.If you go to Mfuwe u’ll find that all lodges are owned by white pipo except 2 lodges owned by zambians.The owners of ldges make millions of dollars.The report show that the tourists pay before they even come to zambia in foreign accounts.Therefore we don’t see dollas in Zambia.what these mafias do is to co-naive with govt officials to bring these foreigners as vistors.Zambians must be very serious.The white pipo in mfuwe are poaching elephats and Zawa, sodiers,op zaf are sleeping.Our poor systems and corruption have destroyed Zambia.Indeed small planes land in national park without detection.lions,leopard and rhinos have been smuggled by lodge owners and govt officials.why destroying the country like this due to love…

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  9. CONTI.The owners of ldges make .why destroying the country like this due to love of money?Due to corruption and lack of monitoring systems zambia is in economic crisis .we can c what we are going thr

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    • …OFENCES AGAINST ZAMBIANS. BECAUSE THESE MINISTERS ARE ALWAYS SO POWERFUL, THE BUDGET ALLOCATION TO THE TOURISM MINISTRY IS ALWAYS LOOSE CHANGE. THE ALLOCATION CAN’T DO ANYTHING APART FROM PHOTO COPYING THE PAPER INDICATING THE ALLOCATED AMOUNT TO THE MINISTRY OF TOURISM. IT PAINS REALLY THAT WE ZAMBIANS ARE SO STUUPID.

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  10. Each of the Antelopes is worth $ 1million!!Why don’t we breed for sale?God in his wisdom has given us all we will ever need to be a prosperous nation.For these smugglers;let then return ALL they have stolen & send them to jail for 10years as a deterrent.

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    • “For these smugglers;let then return ALL they have stolen & send them to jail for 10years as a deterrent.”
      KAZEYA, THAT’S WISHFUL THINKING WHICH I ALSO GO THROUGH. AS POINTED OUT BY SOME OTHER BLOGGERS RIGHT FROM THE WORD “INDEPENDENCE”, HIGH POSITIONED MINISTERS HAVE BEEN INVOLVED IN POACHING AND HELPING THE FOREIGN POACHERS/SMUGGLERS TO EXTERNALISED OUR ANIMALS TO OTHER COUNTRIES WHERE BEAUTIFUL WILDLIFE RANCHES ARE ESTABLISHED AND GENERATE A LOT OF MONEY. MANY ZAMBIANS OVER THE AGE OF 35 MAY REMEMBER DINGI (DINGIZWAYOO). THAT WAS A MINISTER WHO WAS KNOWN FOR POACHING IN THE KK GOVERNMENT. IT CONTINUES UP TO DATE THAT THESE SHAMELESS MINISTERS ASSIST FOREIGN IN COMMITTING CRIMINAL OFENCES AGAINST ZAMBIANS. BECAUSE THESE MINISTERS ARE ALWAYS SO POWERFUL, THE BUDGET ALLOCATION TO…

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  11. This is really terrible. South Africans must not do this to a country that is already poor. If the opposite was the case that Zambians have been caught stealing animals, the fellas would have been in very big trouble. Let the law take it cause. Did the have yellow fever vaccination certificates?

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    • “For these smugglers;let then return ALL they have stolen & send them to jail for 10years as a deterrent.”

      (DINGIZWAYOO). THAT WAS A MINISTER WHO WAS KNOWN FOR POACHING IN THE KK GOVERNMENT. IT CONTINUES UP TO DATE THAT THESE SHAMELESS MINISTERS ASSIST FOREIGN IN COMMITTING CRIMINAL OFENCES AGAINST ZAMBIANS. BECAUSE THESE MINISTERS ARE ALWAYS SO POWERFUL, THE BUDGET ALLOCATION TO THE TOURISM MINISTRY IS ALWAYS LOOSE CHANGE. THE ALLOCATION CAN’T DO ANYTHING APART FROM PHOTO COPYING THE PAPER INDICATING THE ALLOCATED AMOUNT TO THE MINISTRY OF TOURISM. IT PAINS REALLY THAT WE ZAMBIANS ARE SO STUUPID.

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  12. #Moscow, you live in the medieval times my brother. You must be grateful. White owned lodges in Mfuwe, have created job opportunities and have done more than your government in poverty alleviation for rural people. Don’t criminalize all whites, although of course there are bad seeds. You sound so disgruntled my friend, don’t blame the ‘whites’ for your woes. Ask your black brothers to set up lodges also.

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  13. To the UPND and PF shills that I schooled last week and before, because you have inferiority complexes. There are your white knights, Guy Scott looking fellows stealing our wildlife. I hope now your minds are elevating. Wake up, Christ walked Africa as a child, we are a blessed people. Just surrounded by thieving politicians.

    Viva Jesus, Viva ZAWA custodians of God’s and our wild life.

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  14. EXCELLENT! ZAMBIA WILDLIFE AUTHORITY AND OTHER FIMO FIMO. JOB WELL DONE AND KEEP IT UP. WE NEED TO JEALOUSLY, LOOK AFTER OUR GOD-GIVEN NATURAL RESOURCES. NO ONE IS GOING TO DO IT FOR US. BUT, MY WORRY IS THESE PEOPLE WILL CORRUPT OUR POLICE AND DISAPPEAR IN THIN AIR. OR OTHERWISE OUR EQUALLY CORRUPT LEGAL SYSTEM WILL ACQUIT THEM AND RENDER ZWA EFFORTS USELESS.

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  15. Do Zambians have any laws against animal smuggling and associated penalties? Make sure it includes mandatory jail terms not just money because money corrupts judges and politicians.

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  16. Our borders are too porous as then tourism minister Masebo stated about 3 years ago these foreigners were only caught because they were too lazy to sort out their paperwork…they know we are an easy target; you try this as a foreigner in Botswana, you will be shot and fed to the lions and vultures.

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  17. As I read the story the immediate think that crossed my mind was that I ve never seen the Zambian authorities succesful prosecute white people so very soon we will hear this case is a nolle prosequi. I came to the comments and found plenty of comrades thinking the same way. We really know our govt!
    Clever prosecutors know how to divide and rule. In other serious countries Munyaradzi Tapera would have been offered immunity in return for turning state witness so as to arrest the big wigs. The way thesee investigator are going about it just leads to a failed prosecution

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  18. Govt has called for diversification of the economy from copper. What an export opportunity !!!

    A million dollars a piece and they Kwera for free once a year. Makes you think.

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  19. The tip of the iceberg. The criminal activity must have been going on for quite a while. A thorough investigation is a must.

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    • Yes..these guys are good bush pilots who can land and take off a light aircraft in your backyard at anytime of the night…Boer’s private ranches in RSA are brimming with wildlife at our expense because we are too docile always concerned about irrelevant issues like silly prayers and by elections.

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  20. YOU GUYS,U CHASED US FROM SOUTH AFRICA SAYING WE ARE LIKE TICKS U HAVE FOLLOWED US HERE.U ARE THE REAL TICKS.

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  21. You may have a water tight case please do not mess up the evidence. Apartheid South African whites think Africans are fools or less intelligent so they can deplete our natural resources so that they say these Africans CAN NOT MANAGE THEIR natural resources. These criminals want to deprive us of our natural resources as well as tourism income for the nation. Just ignore the statement of father of the two brothers. He does not know where his children go when he is fast asleep. He is also in denial. There can be no misunderstanding when your son flies thousands of kms and loads animals (Selected sables) in the middle of the bush. Take this father as one of those stupid parent instead of shutting up he opens his mouth.

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  22. Zawa, this a well done job please do not mess up the evidence you seem to have a water tight case. There is no reason why all these guys do not know where the animals were being taken to. Involve the intelligence to come to the bottom of this case.

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  23. @ Whisper; Please Donchi decieve yourself.
    These guys are NOT “shitting thenselves” or afraid at all. This is Zambia we are talking about, & not properly run Nations, like Namibia or Botswana!
    They know how the Corrupt Zambian justice system is, grease the palm of a Zambian Politician, or official, with as little as U$D 500.00c, & HEY PRESTO!!! its A Nolle Prosequi.
    However the loss to Zambia runs into ther MILLIONS of U$D, & once we’ve been Plundered Dry, the same Corrupt Slimy Politicians call for Guess What!! A Day of National Prayers.
    We are indeed A NATION OF JOKERS!!!!

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  24. “Kalembwe said the Zambian and South African authorities were collaborating on the investigation.”

    THE Zambian and South African authorities SHOULD ALSO COLLABORATE ON ANOTHER UN PROSECUTED CRIMINAL, HENRY LUPIYA BANDA HIDING IN SOUTH AFRICA.

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  25. Aquick look at the charges. They don’t show anything on illegal possesion of govt trophy. I know the wildlife Act puts all wildlife estate in the president on behalf of Zambians. Be it on private ranch & wild. What I doubt is the fact that they bought the animals at an auction. by law ZAWA elements where present at the auction. They have legal rights to animal possession as long as they where within Zambians domicile. No evidence has been found on them to show the designation of animals. They ve:-)all claimed ignorance. ZAWA shouldn’t play to the gallery with circustation evidence. unless, they captured those animals in the wild. Then they would have danced to so many tunes including that of CITES? Mwanakwesu mbochibende. those are free pipo. They will forfeit a few things. Bu

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  26. Good job Zawa on this one. More investigations are needed. Some big wing might be involved. This vice was rife under the MMD. No wonder Masebo was hated even by PF. These are the guys who’ve sold our animals to places like Uganda for big cash.

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  27. How is buying Sable on an auction – a criminal offence – or smuggling?
    This is apparently a legal company – with all the correct paper work to buy and sell – to and from Zambia – and has been doing so for years..
    They bought these Sable on an auction – and they have the receipt to prove it other newspapers are saying. So what is really going on here ?

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  28. MASEBU has been vidicated, for she mentioned that wildlife was being stollen and taken to other countries. The more reason She fired some ZAWA OFFICERS. The same crop of ZAWA officers are involved in this. How come these THIEVES accessed all the documentation? NEVER BLAME MASEBO, SHE NEW EXACTLY WHAT SHE WAS DOING.

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  29. PLEASE CAGE THESE MORONS AND SENTENCE THEM. NO AMOUNT OF DEFENCE BY THEM SHOULD BE ENTERTAINED. IT IS VERY CLEAR THAT THESE FELLOWS ARE THIEVES. LET THEM FEEL THE ZAMBIAN LAW. SENTENCE THEM TO PRISON. WE SALUTE YOU THE ZAMBIAN MEN AND WOMEN WHO DILIGENTLY RESPONDED TO CALL OF DUTY AND UNDERTOOK A NOBLE TASK. THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS YOU.

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  30. WHY WORST TIME EVIDENCE IS THERE PASS JUDGEMENT ON THEM AND CONTINUE WITH YO PARTNERSHIP WITH SOUTH AFRICANS ON WHERE THE ANIMALS CAME FROM AND OWNER OF AIRCRAFT ETC JAIL THEM 10 TO 15 YEARS EACH AND SEND THEM TO CHILUBI ISLAND.

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  31. So what’s the verdict? We want to know if these guys will get the 10 – 15 years they deserve or whether ZAWA and the minister of tourism will be afraid because they are MUZUNGU. Will there be a bribe and they walk away free and the whole cycle continues or will we take a stand as Zambian’s and say enough is enough! Let’s wait and see. Good thing to reflect upon are Sylvia Masebo’s words. Some contradicted her but she was right and this has unfolded right before our very eyes.

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  32. Jean Kapata you need to have a word with Sylvia Masebo about this. We are 100% sure some of your officials were involved. Let’s look at the paper work for instance and how it ended up in the hands of the arrested. You need to comb this with a fine tooth comb as the answers are staring at you. You need to interview anyone associated with handling documents and signing signatures. Need to clean up shop ASAP. Interrogate the culprits and you shall get the answers you need.

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  33. Comment:all of you above have put comments how’ best can we sue or file in the court of law to sue these guys us individually for the act they have done how can we sue them. I don’t no your opinions readers

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