Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sandalwood - Court Holds Session In Karura

The Magistrate in session

The Accused 

The impounded lorry 

A rare occurrence took place in Kenya Forest Service Headquarters on 9th June, when a court session was held within the compound where a lorry full of sandal wood has been lying since it was impounded and its driver and loader arrested.

Sandalwood is a protected tree species in Kenya. As a way of protecting it, the government imposed a presidential ban in 2007 and anyone who is in possession or harvesting of the same, as its’ harvesting mode is from the roots to its branches hence there arose the need of protecting it from being harvested as the population of the species was diminishing day in day out. Sandal wood is on high demand and most people value it as it is used to make perfumes and for its medicinal value hence making it very expensive.

Since the ban was imposed, the Kenya Forest Service has been taking very stern action againist people who are found harvesting or in possession of this protected species within the law as provided in the Forest Act, 2005.

As it is the duty of forest guards to carry out patrols, it was on the 19th December when 3 KFS Rangers namely Harrison Afwata, Douglas Safani and Isaac Kivungi were performing their daily duties, this day they were carrying out a patrol along the Nairobi - Mai Mahiu road when they came across a lorry (KAK 434 W) with a container.

They stopped it to inspect what was inside it; as soon as it stopped the driver of the lorry told the rangers that the container was full of crates of beer. But the question among the 3 was, why would one choose to transport beer in a sealed container yet it is not illegal yet it was not bearing any KBL or EABL branding? And again why would beer smell like sandal wood? On opening they found 15 tons of sandalwood in the container. 

They arrested the lorry and brought it at the Kenya Forest Service headquarters where it is up to date. 2 people were arrested, being the driver of the lorry John Ndungu Nganga  and the loader Boniface Ngweya Elegwa and were reported to Muthaiga Police station were the 2 are behind bars up to date.

During an open court of the first hearing of the case on 9th June this year at the head quarters in Karura, judge M. Muiya Chief Magistrate Makadara Law courts adjourned the case for a second hearing on 2nd July this year. The 2 suspects who were arrested will remain custody until judgment.

Report by Martin Maingi 

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