Two former Mababe Trust employees alongside another resident who were recently sentenced to two years imprisonment for illegal possession of two elephant tusks by the Maun Magistrate’s Court are appealing the judgement.
The convicts Kago Obiditswe, Godfrey Pekenene and Alec Charles are said to have been busted by the police at Mawana veterinary gate on the 14th August 2020 in possession of the tusks weighing 45.4kg. The trio got arrested following a police tip-off and at the time Obiditswe and Pekenene where employed by Mababe Trust as an escort guide and reservations officer respectively.
Information presented before court is that the accused persons had on that fateful day hired a Toyota Land Cruiser at a price of P1300 to transport the tusks from Mababe to Maun. They were however reportedly busted at the gate at around 7 pm after conducting veterinary formalities and were about to board the car headed for Maun.
The convicts who are representing themselves this week filed an application to appeal the sentence when appearing before Maun Magistrate Gaone Bagopi. Bagopi informed the trio that they will await their appeal while in custody.
During trial, the first accused person (Charles) who opted to give an unsworn testimony claimed that they were taking the tusks to relevant authorities, whereas the second and third accused persons opted to remain silent.
The Investigating Officer (IO) Assistant Superintendent Keotshwaretse Molathegi however argued that the tusks were discovered under the car seats covered with suit and travel bags, an act which she argued indicated that the accused persons had other plans about the tusks apart from taking them to relevant authorities.
When previously convicting the trio Maun Magistrate Keneilwe Kgoadi indicated that the accused persons had the opportunity to first report the tusks to the trust office where the first and second accused persons where employed, and also at the veterinary gate staff, a procedure which they failed to execute.
“None of the three had permission and authorisation to handle or transport the tusks as such their possession of them was unlawful and I therefore find the accused persons guilty of illegal possession of elephant tusks,” Kgoadi previously ruled.
The accused persons will appear again on the 15th August 2023 for status update.