Taken to tusk

Cathrine Moemedi
NO LAUGHING MATTER: Pekene (yellow top) and Obiditswe

Three men busted trying to sell two elephant tusks in a sting operation almost three years ago have been found guilty of possessing a government trophy illegally.

The trio: Alec Charles, 26, Kago Collen Obiditswe, 32, and Godfrey Sapula, 32, will await their sentencing, set for 20 April, behind bars after Maun Magistrates Court saw fit to revoke their bail this week.

Acting on a tip-off, police stopped the men driving a privately hired car at Mawana Veterinary Court back in August 2020, catching them red-handed with the ivory.

All three had been working for Mababe Community Trust at the time and were seemingly on their way to Maun to sell the tusks to a buyer in the tourist town.

In her judgment, Magistrate Keneilwe Kgoadi noted that none of the accused had a permit to posses or trade in government trophies.

“They had no authorization to transport, transit or posses’ government trophies and they had not reported such sighting immediately instead of collecting the tusks for whatever reason” said Kgoadi.

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The Magistrate further pointed out that because of their position at Mababe Trust, the trio were equipped with enough knowledge of game animals, meat and trophy handling and regulations to know better.

“Why put so much burden on themselves to want to personally deliver the tusks? There is no financial reward so they would not lose anything by calling the authorities!”

In mitigation, Charles revealed he’s a famer and, if incarcerated, there would be no-one to look after his small stock. He also told court he is taking care of his elderly mother.

Meanwhile, Obiditswe pleaded for leniency as he is a first-time offender and the sole breadwinner for his children and mother. Similarly, Pekene told court he takes care of his mother and sibling.

The trio were initially charged with illegal possession of elephant tusks but saw the charge downgraded to unlawful possession of a government trophy, a lesser crime which carries a possible five-year sentence or P5, 000 fine.

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