THE Chipata High Court on Wednesday sentenced seven wildlife officers to three years imprisonment with hard labour for manslaughter.
Before Lusaka judge Anessie Banda-Bobo, who was sitting in Chipata, were Mataa Wamundila, Paul Zakaria Phiri, John Simon Banda, Kamona Sibulwa, Mike Mwale, Fred Kankyombo, and Thomas Muyangwe.
The convicts caused the death of Jacob Mbewe on September 10, 2017 at Chinzombo wildlife cells in Mambwe district. The wildlife officers had arrested the deceased on September 4, 2017 after he was found with ivory and fresh elephant meat. The state called nine witnesses while the convicts in their defence called five witnesses.
In mitigation, defence counsel Inutu Chabe from Dove Chambers and Legal Practitioners said the convicts were serving Zambia Wildlife Authority officers, and that by the mere fact that they have been convicted was punishment that they would have to bear as they stand to lose their jobs and they would not be able to provide for their families.
Chabe said the convicts had children who were dependent on them. She said the convicts whose ages range from 30 to 40 still have time to reflect and rehabilitate themselves. Chabe said the convicts committed the offence during the course of employment and regrets that life was lost.
But judge Banda-Bobo said she heard the mitigation and that the convicts were first offenders. She said the convicts caused the death of a breadwinner thereby robbing the children of their father. Judge Banda-Bobo said human life was more sacred than wildlife.
She said the three years jail sentence was with effect from the day the judgment was delivered.