HARARE – A Chinese national who was nabbed at the Harare International airport after being found in possession of 99kg of ivory has said airport officials stole his money and framed charges against him because he did not consent to bribes.
Chen Guoliang was found with ivory worth $28 000 and is accused of contravening the Parks and Wildlife Act, for illegal possession of ivory.
He faces another charge of contravening the Customs and Excise Act, for unlawfully exporting goods.
In his defence Guoliang said: “I was booked with Ethopian airlines on October 21 on my way to China. I had two cases of luggage and a wallet with $7 000,” he said.
“While I was about to check-in two officials approached me and ordered that I release all my possessions.
“They dragged me to a certain room down stairs where they asked for a bribe and also confiscated my passport and air ticket.
“The officers continued bugging me for money and when I refused they insulted and threatened me with death. They forcibly took my money and later put a sticker bearing my name on one of the cases kept in that room,” Guoliang said.
“They put the case on my trolley and I was taken to another room where I was forced to write my name and sign on several documents before I was arrested and later appeared in court.”
Prosecutor Fransisca Mukumbiri argues that Guoliang accepted that the boxes were his since the police officer showed him that the tags on the boxes and his passport tallied.
It is Mukumbiri’s case that Guoliang “tailor-made” his defence and “is trying to run away from the case”.