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.
In October , ZAWA officers smashed an alleged endangered wildlife smuggling syndicate, arresting the six South Africans and seizing 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.
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 at the time that 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 had died due to stress.