Eveline de Klerk
The 49-year-old Petrus Mutako Damaseb who is a member of the Namibian Defence Force (NDF) and 29-year-old Isak Steven Omeb, both arrested over the weekend for suspected rhino poaching, were denied bail by magistrate John Sindano yesterday during their routine court appearance.
The two men along with two other suspects were arrested on Sunday afternoon at the Engen Service Station at Walvis Bay while they were trying to sell the freshly poached horns. The horns are believed to have a street value of over N$600 000. Rhinos are an endangered species because of the rising demand for rhino horn due to misplaced beliefs that it has medicinal powers.
One suspect was questioned and released as there was not enough evidence to link him to the crime. Another suspect evaded arrest and fled the scene but was arrested later that evening in Otjiwarongo.
According to Deputy Commissioner Erastus Iikuyu, the third suspect will be charged at Otjwarongo before being transferred to Walvis Bay later this week.
It is believed that the poaching took place in the Otjozondjupa Region.
Omeb told magistrate Sindano he was not aware of any rhino horns in the vehicle and that he was just assisting Damaseb with driving. He claimed he had no knowledge of rhino poaching.
“Even my family does not know that I have been arrested,” he told the court.
However, state prosecutor Sylvia Kauluma opposed bail on grounds there are still a pair of horns and two other suspects outstanding. She also said the case was still in an early stage of investigation and thus “bail cannot be granted at this stage”.
Both Omeb and Damaseb indicated they will apply for state legal aid. They were told their case was remanded to June 19 for further police investigations and that they would not be granted bail pending further investigations.