THE High Court has upheld a 20- year jail sentence imposed earlier on Nyamhanga Chacha by the district court after he was found guilty of committing three offences, including illegally possessing weapons and hippopotamus meat.
Serengeti district Court had earlier sentenced the appellant into 20-years- imprisonment after he was found guilty of committing three related economic crimes including unlawful entry into Serengeti National Park where he committed other criminal acts.
Judge John Kahyoza ruled against Chacha, alias Kibiti, the appellant, after dismissing the appeal he had lodged to oppose the decision of the trial District Court of Serengeti.
“I find no basis to disturb the trial court’s findings. I am satisfied that the prosecution proved the appellant’s guilt beyond reasonable doubts,” the judge ruled.
According to him, the trial court had all the reasons to find the accused person guilty and convict him of the offences of unlawful entry into the National Park, unlawful possession of weapons in the National Park and possession of government trophies.
“I hereby dismiss the appeal and uphold the conviction and sentence imposed by the trial court. I impose an additional sentence of one year imprisonment for the offence of unlawful possession of weapons in the second count which was skipped by the trial court. The sentences shall run concurrently,” he ruled.
On March 28, 2019, two Serengeti park rangers found the appellant and his co-accused walking along Mto Mara River bank within Serengeti National Park. The two were conducting their routine patrol within the national park with other rangers.
The two potential prosecution witnesses testified that they found the appellant and the coaccused in possession of the two spears and two pieces of fresh hippopotamus meat.
They arrested them and prepared a seizure certificate, which the appellant and his co-accused signed. After full trial, the district court found the appellant guilty and convicted him as charged.
The trial court sentenced the appellant to pay a fine of 100,000/= or to serve an imprisonment term of six months for the offence of unlawful entry into the national park. The trial court skipped to sentence on the appellant on the second count of unlawful possession of weapons into the national park.
The trial court also imposed a custodial sentence of twenty years for the offence of unlawful possession of government trophies. It ordered the sentence to run concurrently. Having being aggrieved with the findings, the appellant took the matter to the High Court.
During hearing of the appeal, the appellant complained, among others, that the offences he was charged with were not proved and that there was no independent witness when he signed seizure certificate.
In his deliberation, the High Court judge noted that the appellant did not explain why the prosecution witnesses should not be trusted and their evidence be treated credible.
“I am unable to find any ground to discredit the evidence of (the two) park rangers. It is settled law that witnesses must be trusted unless there is a cogent reason to question their credibility,” he said.