Thursday, August 14, 2014
Chinese, Indian 'businessmen' appear in Namibian court over 4 elephant tusks
A NAMIBIAN man who is one of the five people - including one Chinese and one Indian national - facing charges of poaching after being found in illegal possession of four elephant tusks in a car in Windhoek two months ago was granted bail of N$5 000 on Friday. Hamutenja Stanislaus Hamutenja (34) had spent a month in police custody before the prosecution agreed that he could be released on bail. Magistrate Jermaine Muchali granted bail to Hamutenja a week after the fifth accused in the case in which two Chinese citizens and an Indian are also charged had been given bail in an amount of N$5 000. The fifth accused, George Mashala (42), was granted bail on 31 July, when he made his first court appearance following his arrest. The first accused in the case, Chinese businessman Hou Xuecheng (37), was granted bail of N$30 000 on 29 July. Hou and a compatriot, Sha Zhiwei (27), an Indian shop owner, Rajaiyah Ranjith Kumar (30), Hamutenja and Mashala are jointly charged with counts of dealing in and possessing controlled wildlife products. Hou, Sha and Kumar were arrested after police officers found four elephant tusks in a car in the Northern Industrial Area on the night of 11 June. The three men were at the same scene, where they had arrived in another car. The driver of the car in which the tusks were found ran away when police officers arrived at the scene. During the hearing of a bail application by Hou, a police officer told Magistrate Muchali that the car in which the tusks were found belonged to Hamutenja. The officer also said that Hamutenja had told her that he had travelled with the ivory from Rundu to Windhoek. In Windhoek, he was in contact with a middleman, who made an arrangement with him to meet at the place in the Northern Industrial Area where the police later found the tusks and arrested the three foreigners, the officer testified. Hou alone is further charged with another count of possession of controlled wildlife products, after the police allegedly also discovered two cheetah skins in his office in the China Town shopping complex in the Northern Industrial Area. He has been released on bail of N$10 000 on the charge in connection with the cheetah skins. Both cases were postponed to 26 September on Friday.Sha and Kumar are still in custody.