Between 6th and 10th May 2019, three coordinated wildlife crime operations were undertaken by the Malawi Police Service with the support of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife.
The operations have so far led to the arrest of nine Chinese and three Malawian nationals, and the recovery of multiple specimens of rhino horn, live pangolin, and pangolin scales, worked elephant ivory, raw hippo ivory, and protected reptile species. A number of unlicensed firearms and explosives were also recovered.
The suspects have been charged with a combination of offences – under Section 86(1), as read with 110B (b) of the National Parks & Wildlife Act, and Section 16(2) of the Firearms Act – relating to the illegal possession of listed species, protected species, firearms and live ammunition.
On 4th May 2019, two Malawian nationals – Mr James Mkwezalemba (38, from Manyenje, District of Neno) and Mr Julius Sanudia (36, from Kamwepe, District of Mangochi) – were arrested accused of offences related to the possession of Pangolin, a Listed Species. Their case has been adjourned to 27th May and is scheduled to be heard in the Principle Resident Magistrate Court by His Worship Viva Nyimba in Lilongwe.
On 9th and 10th May 2019, seven Chinese nationals and one Malawian national – Mr Jinfu Zheng (58), Mr Guozhong Zhang (49), Mr Guohua Zhang (47), Mrs Qin Hua Zhang (43), Mr Yanwu Zhuo (37), Mr Ya Shen Zhuo (51), Mr Li Hao Yaun (42), and Mr Cosmas Sakugwa (32, from Danda, Lilongwe) – were arrested on a combination of offences relating to the possession of pangolin scales, rhino horn, worked elephant ivory, raw hippo teeth, and unlicenced firearms. The case is set for on 23rd May by Senior Resident Magistrate Court in Lilongwe by His Worship Msekandiana.
Mr Li Hao Yuan was previously convicted of ivory trafficking offences at KIA in 2014. Mr Li Hao Yuan and Mrs Qin Hua Zhang are also on bail and awaiting judgement under Senior Resident Magistrate, His Worship Msokera, following their arrest in December 2017 for alleged possession of elephant ivory and specimens of other legally protected species (case 1647A/17). A date for this hearing is yet to be set.
In the third operation, conducted on 10th May, a further two Chinese nationals– Mr Qiang Cheng (43), and Mr Shine He (53) – were arrested for the possession of pangolin scales and assorted live ammunition and grenades. The case will be heard under Her Worship Yona in the Senior Resident Magistrate court, adjourned to 20th May.
Investigations are ongoing and further arrests may still be made.