On 20/1/2020 the Lilongwe Magistrate Court sentenced Mr Quang Cheng, a Chinese National for his own Plea of guilty to 2 years IHL for illegal possession of specimen of listed species, (405 pangolin scales), which is contrary to section 86 (1) as read with section 110B (b) of the National Parks and Wildlife Act.
The convict was arrested on 10 May 2019 at Kanengo Galaxy Gas Company compound where he was staying with his colleagues.
In mitigation, the defense submitted that Cheng is a first time offender and he showed remorse for pleading guilty and that though it was stated in the state’s submissions that the number of pangolin scales shows that more than one pangolin was killed, but there was no scientific proof for that and lastly the defense submitted that the convict has already been substantially punished hence a need for a non custodial Sentence.
The state also in aggravating factors, submitted that the convict is a first time offender but the offence committed is of serious nature, which attracts a maximum sentence of 30 years IHL.
Secondly the state submitted that the number of pangolin scales clearly shows that they were not from a single pangolin.
Thirdly the state asked the court to grant the convict a stiffer penalty that would send a clear signal to would be offenders.
Lastly the state submitted that the conduct of the convict is reducing numbers of pangolins in the country which is also affecting tourism industry and the economy of the country.
State then pleaded with the court for a meaningful sentence for the convict.
The court analysis was that indeed the case is of serious nature and required an immediate custodial Sentence regardless of the mitigating factors and that the convict did not waste the court’s time.
Wildlife offence is a serious one.
It was also stated that wildlife sentencing guideline’s indicates that starting point is 6 years but the court diverted from them and slapped the convict with 2 year IHL and the Sentence to start from the day of arrest.
Cass was prosecuted by Private prosecutor Andy Kaonga and state prosecutor John Kamphani.
The presiding Magistrate was HW Msekandiana.