Following their conviction last month , the 7-year old case has at long last reached finality as A 54 year old man Setabosha Sembongo and his son Thayaone Mothaedi 30, have been fined P20000 and P10000 respectively for illegal possession of elephant tusks.
When passing his sentence Magistrate Mulalo Thebeetsile noted that the suitable punishment in the case is a non custodial sentence as the two men did not benefit from the crime.
“The defense attorney had prayed for a non custodial sentence as the two accused persons did not reap any financial gain from the crime. They were arrested before they could sell tusks and considering the circumstances a non custodial sentence would be appropriate” said Mulalo.
According to Mulalo there is also no evidence before court which suggests that they actually hunted and killed the elephant before taking its tusks.
“The pieces of the tusks were not quantified to establish whether it was only one tusk or more. There is no evidence which suggests that they hunted the elephant and killed it to obtain its tusks” added Mulalo.
The Magistrate further revealed that the court was obliged to give Motlhasedi a lesser sentence as he did not play any major role in the commission of the offense, He was only asked by his father to transport his parcels.
The particulars of the offence are that the father and son duo were arrested in Gweta on March,05th, 2016 in possession of 65 pieces of elephant tusks weighing 65.kg valued
at P106 602.00.
The two men readily pleaded not guilty to the offense calling the prosecution to prove their case beyond any reasonable doubt.
In his judgment Chief Magistrate Thebeetsile Mulalo noted that The first prosecution witness, Detective Sergeant Thulaganyo Mokobe testified that on the day of the incident he was on duty when his office received a report that there were some elephant tusks hidden in the bush.
“He went to the scene in the company of four police officers and two wildlife officers. They met with the informer who took them to the scene. They laid an ambush at the scene and at around midnight a white corolla arrived. Two men alighted from the car then removed two pieces of elephant pieces and loaded them in the boot” revealed Mulalo.
According to Mulalu the police arrested the duo and upon interrogation the father told the police that he was going to sell the tusks to Zambian buyers in Gweta, Thatayaone on the other hand informed the police that his father had hired him to transport some stuff for him.
Whilst with the police Setabosha’s phone is said to have kept on ringing and he explained that it was the buyers calling him, a plan to arrest the buyers was made. The police asked Setabosha to arrange for a meeting with the said Zambians and they too were arrested.
When convicting them Mulalu noted that the two men did not have any license or permission to possess elephant tusks.
Pleading with the court not to remand the two men in prison custody, their Attorney Charles Tlagae successfully argued that the matter is very old as it took the prosecution 7 years to complete and yet the accused never took law enforcement officers to court for undue delay which proves that they have always cooperated with the law.
The duo have been given a period of seven days to pay the fine failing which they will be sent to prison for two years and one year respectively.