A wildlife officer and a police officer have been sentenced to five years imprisonment with hard labour for being in possession of a live pangolin. Ministry of Tourism and Arts public relations officer, Mr. Sakabilo Kalembwe has identified those sentenced as Bertha Katanda, 42 a wildlife offficer from the department and John Pende, 54, an officer in the Zambia police service.
Mr. Kalembwe, in a statement issued today explains that the duo was arrested on 7th July 2018 in Lusaka while attempting to sell the live animal in the company of two others who were acquited by the the Lusaka Subordinate Court.
“The Lusaka subordinate court has sentenced Bertha Katanda (42), a Wildlife Police Officer from the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW), and John Pende (54), an Officer from the Zambia Police Service, to five years imprisonment with hard labour for unlawful possession of a live pangolin. The duo was jointly charged with two other persons, for Unlawful Possession of the Protected Animal contrary to section 130 (1) ZWA No. 14 of 2015. Two other suspects in the matter were acquitted,” he said.
Mr. Kalembwe said the jailing of the two officers attests that when it comes to wildlife crime, no one is above the law. “The Department of National Parks and Wildlife will not tolerate illegal activities and will hold anyone found wanting to account, even within their ranks” he said.
Under the Zambia Wildlife Act No 14 of 2015, anyone found in illegal possession of pangolins, their scales or other body parts, is liable upon conviction to a minimum sentence of five years imprisonment, without the option of paying a fine.
Pangolins are unique, scaly mammals, which help to keep soil fertile by controlling insect populations.
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