The Suspects under custody
The Suspects under custody

Six South Africans and a Zimbabwean national have pleaded guilty after they were arrested in Monze for attempting to smuggle 12 sables into South Africa.

Zambia Wildlife Authority Public Relations Officer Sakabilo Kalembwe who confirmed the development said the six have been fined K200, 000 and convicted for all thirteen counts which include unlawful possession of prohibited articles namely wildlife and being in possession of ammunitions among other charges.

The seven were arrested in October after ZAWA officers smashed an alleged endangered wildlife smuggling syndicate and seized a specially equipped light aircraft, vehicles, weapons and veterinary drugs.

The men detained included 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.

One of the suspects was identified as Francois , 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. Francois 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 died due to stress.

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.

The two pilots, who are South African, are were held at Woodlands police station in Lusaka. The others, including two Pretoria brothers, were at a police station in Monze. The brothers’ father 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.

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16 COMMENTS

  1. This is a long story, starts way back…………………..ask the other ministers why sometime ago we had helicopters flying ex Liv Airport to SA at night? well done, catch them one by one

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  2. tell us the final verdict. We cant fine them all K200,000 when the animals they wanted to sell could have given them K132,000,000 using today’s rate. Kalembwe can you tell us ifyamano. We expect those convicts to pay the equivalent price or send them to jail for 25yrs.

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  3. One animal costs $ 1 m…. why are we poor ! These animal s can multiply like goats and we can keep them in our villages and farms. But ZAWA has made it impossible for Zambians to venture into this business. A poor villager found catching rats for ndiyo will be called a poacher and sent to jail for ages. This mafias will be dining in J’burg soon.

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  4. ASK BA RB, ALSO. THIS STARTED WAY BACK IN MMD AND POSSIBLY UNIP. A LOT OF APAMWAMBA ARE MOST LIKELY TO HAVE FULL INFO ON THIS. NOW, WE HAVEN’T BEEN TOLD WHERE THOSE ANIMALS WERE INTENDED TO GO APART FROM THEM HAVING PLEADED GUILTY. PLEADING GUILTY MEAN ACCEPTING CRIMINAL ACTIVITY(IES) AND THEREFORE, WITH FULL KNOWLEDGE OF WHAT ONE INTENDED TO DO AND THE CONNECTIONS. IF NOT THEY SHOULDN’T BE LET TO GO. BUT, WITH THICK CORRUPTION IN ZAMBIA AMONGST TOP AUTHORITIES, THIS IS ASKING FOR TOO MUCH.

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  5. You call this justice? Atase! K200,000 fine! All our neighbours will be laughing at us. Even the WWF will be shocked to hear that is how Zambia treats poachers and smugglers. These criminals should be imprisoned for five years and fined K2 million each. Is this what you call a responsible government? Ubupuba nipamushi!

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  6. There you go; ati investors, my foot!! chaps are there to take things legally or illegally; and you think they will stop there? Next time they will up the antics and be more cunning in their plans. Where is patriotism? Chaps needed to be fined the value of each animal; especially for each one that had died.

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  7. The whole saga availed an opportunity for corruption to a lot of people in Zawa and the Judicially.

    How on earth can any sensible Judge pass this kind of sentence, K 200,000.00 FINE against the huge value for those animals? There is a big loophole for corruption in the way justice is dispensed in Zambia.

    Come on Zambians, wake up and demand for those involved to kicked out NOW!!!

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  8. STIFF SENTENCES PLEASE!!
    I however Doubt this will be the case, because in Nations where leadership lacks vision, some corrupt Goon will take US Dollar 300.00c, & let these merciless Economic Saboteurs off, without any deterrent.
    Result is they will be back for more as they make more than USD 100.000c per animal
    PROVE ME WRONG ZAMBIA!

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  9. If we sell 18 of these animals in a month we will have USD18m which is enough to import power from the turkey ship docked in Mozambique. How many of these sables do we have in zambia? come on pf! you dont need HH to think for you. Use your dull minds and get us out of this mess. These animals have sex everyday and they will give birth to more than 18 culfs per month. Its simple mathematics.

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