Early this year President Ian Khama declared two Chinese nationals prohibited immigrants on January 22, 2013 after they were detained by intelligence officers.Beili Zhang, 49 and 34-year-old Guangquing Cao were allegedly caught in unlawful possession of elephant tusks at Sir Seretse Khama Airport.
A week prior to their deportation, they had appeared before the village chief magistrate Linah Mokibe-Ohile, where they were granted bail. The prosecution did not oppose their bail application owing to the fact that Zhang has lived in Botswana for over 16 years and has businesses in the country. Nonetheless as soon as they thought they were breathing fresh air, the Chinese nationals were pounced on and led to Sir Seretse Khama Police and then later to Molepolole centre for immigrants, within 24 hours they learnt that they had been declared Prohibited Illigal immigrants by the President.
It later surfaced that the two Chinese guys had actually imported jewellery from Zimbabwe, with some ivory decoration.Fast tract to last week Tuesday. A more serious matter of rhino horns. Four accused persons were found in possession of two rhino horns, that were confiscated and tested clinically. The results were that the two horns weigh 11.5 and 62.9 grams respectively.
Here the accused persons are also non citizens; Imran Kara, Jonathan Antoniou, Leon Steinberg and Crischa Lessau.You do not need to be a rocket science to tell which of the two cases, between the Chinese nationals and this recent one constitutes a more serious crime of ivory smuggling. The Chinese were found with jewellery they imported from Zimbabwe, these recent ones, were caught with the two horns at Gaborone West Industrial on March 4 this year.
In both cases, the magistrates court has given the accused bail, but in the case of the Chinese nationals, the word is that the National Security authorities were concerned that ivory smuggling, which is a serious offence should not have been treated so lightly by the magistrates court; that a stiffer penalty, demonstrating a tough stand against poaching should have been exercised by the courts.
The question is on this new case where two rhino horns, not jewellery, were caught in the hands of non-citizens, in Botswana. Is the DIS now taking their foot off the gas, or is it a case of saying, let the courts decisions just stand, even if they are against national security in the good judgement of the DIS?
Editorial, The Monitor, April 15, 2013