AN insatiable desire for game meat has landed Swapo National Councillor and Member of Parliament for Otavi, Bartholomeus Shangheta, in hot soup after he allegedly illegally shot and killed four endangered antelopes at a game farm in Otavi.
The councillor, considered a ruling party heavyweight in the central region, appeared in the Grootfontein Magistrates’ Court earlier this week, and was granted N$2,000 bail on charges of killing protected animals.
Informanté is reliably informed that after his arrest on August 8, Shangheta had managed to negotiate for free police bail after he said he was scheduled to appear at a wedding the following day. It is not known whether the antelopes were intended to be served as fast food for the wedding.
Shangheta, an avid hunter who has been implicated in illegal hunting prior to this occasion, was allegedly caught red handed following his shooting of four highly endangered Damara Dik-Dik antelopes by the owners of Maroela, a cattle and trophy hunting farm located 32km north of Otavi, in the Otjozondjupa Region.
The farm owner, Bernhard Sack, told Informanté that he saw Shangheta’s vehicle, a Toyota Hilux with registration N22050OV parked on the gravel road just outside his property. He then observed the Honourable MP emerging from the bush carrying one of the slaughtered antelopes.
Shangheta then drove away from the scene in the company of an unidentified man, and headed to his house, where he proceeded to hide the four slaughtered antelope in his garage.
Sack and his game trackers went on to investigate the matter, tracing Shangheta’s spoor to a spot just by the road where they found bloodspots and antelope hair on some tree leaves.
The farmer reported the matter to the Otavi police and they headed for Shangheta’s farm, where they found a yellow bag containing four Damara Dik-Diks, stashed in his garage.
“All four animals were positively identified as Damara Dik-Dik by the police as well as Mr. Sack and his farm worker and confiscated by the police,” a source, who was at the scene during the house search, said.
“When asked where he had found the animals, Shangheta claimed that he had found them lying dead on the gravel,” one police officer said.
The four animals had been skinned however, and police recovered metal pellets from the carcasses, suspected to have been discharged from a 12-bore shotgun. It is not known precisely what type of firearm Shangheta had used. Police have placed Shangheta under investigation on a charge of illegal hunting of protected game CR 06/08/2008.
When contacted for comment after appearing in court, Shangheta declined to comment, saying only “I don’t have a comment about that one.”
NaTIS records confirmed that the vehicle involved in the poaching incident, a red Toyota Hilux, is registered in Shangheta’s name.
The Damara Dik-Dik is one of the most highly endangered animals in southern Africa, with populations found only in northern Namibia and southern Angola.
According to the farm owner, the animals Shangheta shot have a trophy value of N$11,250 each, bringing their total value to N$45,000. The Namibian government recently came under fire for approving the inclusion of some of the country’s few remaining desert elephants in hunting quotas.