Jail term to probation: Freedom for KRA official jailed over Sh382m ivory heist

PHOTO | LABAN WALLOGA A man arranges some of the 638 pieces of impounded elephant tusks for weighing at Port Police Station in Mombasa on January 21, 2013. The ivory, seized at the port, is valued at Sh100 million.

A Mombasa Court on Wednesday reviewed a two-year jail term for a suspect involved in the attempted smuggling of ivory worth Sh382.7 million through Mombasa Port. 

James Ngala Kassiwa will now serve a nine month non-custodial sentence after the High Court in Mombasa reduced the two years punishment imposed on him by the Magistrates court.

Justice Ann Ong’injo was convinced with the convict’s plea that he has been through various rehabilitation programs and has stable social support mechanisms for reintegration and resettlement.

“This court finds that the applicant’s application for revision has merit and revises his sentence to a non-custodial sentence. The remainder of the applicant’s sentence is to be served on probation for nine months,” said the judge.

In his request to the High Court, Mr Ngala begged for mercy citing his age and asked to be given a chance to reunite with his family.

“The outside environment is conducive for reintegration and resettlement. I am therefore suitable for sentence review,” he said.

He faulted the magistrate’s court for failing to consider his age, deteriorating health, marital status and gravity of his mitigation while sentencing him to two years imprisonment. 

“I have lost my employment, sentencing me to prison is double punishment,” he lamented. 

Mr Ngala and his co-accused Fredrick Sababu Mungule were found guilty and convicted for the offence of conspiring to aid smuggling of elephant tusks to Thailand through the Mombasa port. 

They were arrested in early 2013 after the 3.8 metric tonnes of ivory was detected at the Mombasa port while at its final stage of being exported to Thailand.

 The court last year found that the two conspired to bring into customs area the 638 pieces of ivory for onward exportation to Thailand. 

The court noted that Mr Mungule initiated the whole process, procured a container that was to be used to transport the prohibited goods and that he was directly involved in smuggling of the items weighing 3827.5 kilograms. 

Mr Ngala was found to have participated in the crime by failing to carry out verification of the goods in the KRA’s Simba system. 

The trial court noted that had Mr Ngala carried out his duties faithfully, he would have assisted in preventing the container from being cleared for exportation. 

“I have considered the evidence tabled by both the accused and the prosecution. I am convinced that the suspects conspired to contravene the law. I have found them guilty and convicted them accordingly,”Magistrate Edna Nyaloti who handled the case ruled. 

Their jailing brought to an end the trial that took close to 10 years to be finalized.
Mungule and Ngala were charged with two offences relating to illegal exportation under the East African Community Customs Management Act 2004.

[email protected]