A court in the northern Mozambican province of Niassa has ordered the deportation to Tanzania of 10 Tanzanian citizens found guilty of looting mineral resources inside the Niassa National Reserve.
The court sentenced the ten men, who had entered the country illegally, to prison terms of between a year and two months and six years under Mozambique’s conservation legislation. But, because of the overcrowding in Mozambican jails, the court decided to send them to serve their sentences in Tanzanian jails. In addition to the jail time, the ten were ordered to pay over a million meticais (about 16,400 US dollars, at current exchange rates) for the damage they caused to the environment.
The men were lucky that they were charged under the old conservation legislation, and not the amended law, passed by the Mozambican parliament in May, which increases the penalty for this type of environmental offence to prison terms of between 12 and 16 years.
According to a press release issued by the National Administration of Conservation Areas, the Niassa National Reserve is now working with the Frontier Guard and with the immigration services to ensure the deportation of the ten to Tanzania within the 20 day period stipulated by the court.
A Mozambican citizen named Abel Gabriel was tried alongside the Tanzanians for illegal mining and was also found guilty. Instead of a prison term, he was sentenced to “socially useful labour”, one of the alternatives to prison envisaged in Mozambique’s new Penal Code.