Six employees of Lilongwe Handling and Clearing Company and two police officers have been arrested for allegedly aiding a Gambian man identified as Sainey Jagne to export ivory through Kamuzu International Airport.
Briefing Parliament’s Natural Resources and Climate Change Committee and officials from the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Wellingtone Chimdzakazi, representing the Malawi Police Service on the issue, said investigations are underway and a conclusive report will be issued soon.
“We are still investigating this issue. So far, eight people have been arrested, six Lilongwe Handling and Clearing Company workers and two police officers. We feel this is an organised syndicate.
“We are told the search was done manually as there was power failure at the airport …so we are also involving handwriting experts to see where the goods really originated from.”
Natural Resources and Climate Change Committee chairperson Werani Chilenga said government should act quickly on such issues.
“We want his [Jagne’s] licence to be cancelled immediately. He has dented the image of the country enough and those who aided him should be brought to book,” he said.
In January 2017, 39 kilogrammes of rhino horn were seized at Shanghai Pudong Airport in China while in March 422 pieces of ivory weighing 330 kilogrammes were seized at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Thailand.
In addition, another 119 kilogrammes of rhino horn were seized at Noi Bai Airport in Vietnam.
Recently, Germany said Malawi has become a weak link for traffickers smuggling ivory and other illicit goods out of the country, thereby endangering the country and the region’s wildlife.
The country’s weak legislation on trafficking and corruption in border posts and airports has been blamed for worsening the situation.
However, a press statement from the Department of Parks and Wildlife said information that the trophies came from Malawi was misleading. It said the country was only being used as a transit route by smugglers. n