A Chinese woman, Fu Chang Feng (50), and two local businessmen, appeared before the Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court in Dar es Salaam yesterday charged with importation, possession and storage of prohibited fishing gears, all valued at over 22.9bn/-.
Before Resident Magistrate Godfrey Mwambapa, other accused persons were Jeremiah Kenenge (45), a businessman residing at Mchikichini area and Ally Raza (34), also a businessman, who lives at Mnazi Mmoja area.
The accused persons were not allowed to enter plea to the charges because one of the count relating to importation of prohibited goods in Tanzania fall under the Economic and Organised Crime Control Act, which is triable by the High Court.
Such offence, according to the law, could be heard by a lower court upon securing consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to confer such jurisdiction.
The case was adjourned till today when the court will give a ruling on application for bail. The prosecution, led by Senior State Attorney Mutalemwa Kishenyi, assisted by Inspector of Police Jackson Chidunda, informed the court that investigations into the matter have not been completed.
All accused persons are alleged to have committed the offence between October 4 and 5. It is alleged that on October 4 at Kurasini Shimo la Udongo area in Ilala and Temeke districts in the city, jointly and together, Feng and Kenenge imported into Tanzania from Shangai, China, a container with 499 bags of monofilament nets valued at 7,485,000,000/-. Such goods, according to the prosecution, were prohibited for importation and use in the country.
The court further heard that on October 5 at Mafuriko Street in Ilala District, jointly and together, all the accused persons were found in possession and storing prohibited fishing gears.
The prosecution told the court that such fishing gears were stored in 325 bags containing 187 pieces of monofilament nets, valued at 15,193,750,000/-, which are prohibited for storage and use in Tanzania.
It is alleged further that on the same day and place in the city of Dar es Salaam, all the accused persons were found in unlawful possession and storing 50 bags containing 200 pieces of fishing gillnet with mesh less than three inches each, value d at 300m/- , which are prohibited fishing gears.
After the charges were read, Advocate Lomani Lamwai, for Raza, requested the court to grant his client bail because he was not involved in the first count that fall under the Economic Crime and Control Act, which is triable by the High Court.
However, the prosecution strongly opposed to the application, submitting that the whole case has been lodged as an economic case and that the law was very clear that any application under such circumstances could only be entertained by the High Court, which is vested with such jurisdiction.
According to the prosecution, that is why all the accused persons have not been asked by the court to enter any plea to the counts read over and explained to them. Upon hearing the submissions from both parties, the magistrate said he would deliver the ruling on the matter today.