Dar es Salaam. A Chinese woman dubbed the “Ivory Queen” for her alleged leadership in one of Africa’s biggest ivory smuggling rings, has confessed to smuggling elephant tusks, the prosecution alleged at a city court yesterday.
The prosecution informed the Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court that Ms Yang Feng Glan had admitted to police that she was involved in buying and exporting the tusks to Asian countries.
Reading the charging documents during a preliminary hearing, State Attorney Mr Paul Kadushi, assisted by Ms Faraja Nchimbi, told the court that the accused made the confession during an interrogation by the police shortly after her arrest.
Ms Yang is charged along with two Tanzanians, Mr Salivius Matembo and Mr Manase Philemon with several counts, including smuggling ivory worth Sh5.4 billion between January 1, 2000 and May 22, 2014.
The prosecution told the court that Ms Yang was arrested following a confessional statement by her co-accused to the effect that she the sole buyer of the elephant tusks.
It was alleged before Resident Magistrate Huruma Shaidi, that prior to April 20, 2014, police officers were secretly informed that there was a high-profile poaching syndicate involved in purchasing and exporting ivory to far east.
A few days later, one member of the syndicate, Mr Philemon, who is now the second accused, was arrested. “Mr Philemon confessed to have been involved in buying and exporting the elephant tusks to Asian countries in collusion with Mr Salivius Matembo and Ms Glan,” Mr Kadushi told the court. He allegedly said, together with Mr Matembo, who is the first accused, had been collecting the elephant tusks from poachers across the country. and their sole buyer had been Ms Yang, who is the second accused in the case.
According to the prosecution, investigation mounted by the police culminated the arrest of Mr Matembo and Ms Glan who also confessed to have taken an active role in running the said criminal racket.
However, all the accused yesterday disputed all facts except their names and particulars.
In order to prove the disputed facts the prosecutions intend to call nine witnesses along with several exhibits during the full hearing of the case scheduled to start on November 4.
On their side the accused through their advocate Dr Masumbuko Lamwai intending to call seven witness during their defense including the accused themselves.
The accused were arraigned on October 7 last year charged accused of involved in the smuggling and trading in 706 elephant tusks weighing 1,889 kilogrammes and worth Sh5.4 billion without a license from the Director of Wildlife.
The three are also charged with involvement in organized crime. They are alleged to have illegally collected, transported and sold the ivory for profit without a permit from the Director of Wildlife.
Mr Philemon is also separately charged with escaping from lawful custody.
It was alleged that on May 21, 2014 at Sinza Palestina in Kinondoni District, the accused escaped from police after he was detained for illegally possessing government trophies.
accused, they had been collecting the elephant tusks from poachers across the country and their sole buyer had been Ms Glan who is the third accused in the case.