Dar es Salaam. Police have dismissed a seven-day ultimatum issued by a senior cabinet minister for the arrest of suspected poaching kingpins, saying the security forces do not act on such orders.
Police spokesperson Barnabas Mwakalukwa told The Citizen that Natural Resources and Tourism minister Hamis Kigwangalla’s directive at a press conference in Dodoma Thursday would not influence their investigations into the poaching case.
“We operate in accordance with the rule of law, we don’t just act from nowhere,” the police spokesperson said. The outspoken minister set himself on a collision course with the Police Force when he accused investigators of sitting on a case he said involved four poaching masterminds. He told the press conference that the suspects whose arrest he’s demanding are the ones who planned the assassination of an anti-poaching campaigner from South Africa – Wayne Lotter – last August.
According to the minister, only one of the suspected assailants has been arrested. He said the other four, who allegedly masterminded the assassination, are still on the run. Dr Kigwangalla said he personally communicated the matter to the Police but not much progress had been made.
The minister threatened to take the matter up with President John Magufuli, who has since declared ordered the security forces to go after top criminals financing organised networks behind elephant poaching, saying no one was “untouchable”.
Contacted for comment yesterday, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Simon Sirro said he had already given instructions to the spokesperson to handle the matter.
And ACP Mwakalukwa said: “If there is any case, we investigate it, and once the investigation is completed, we hand over the case to a lawyer for further legal proceedings.”
The police spokesperson reiterated that the Force was determined to upholding the rule of law.