FRANCISTOWN: A 24-year-old Chinese man who was charged with cruelty to animals in Francistown has resurfaced in the country’s second city after he was declared a prohibited immigrant last year.
The police have now charged Lei Jen with entering Botswana illegally after a magistrate court declared him a prohibited immigrant last year.
Confirming the incident, station commander for Central police Lebalang Maniki said: “We have arrested a Chinese national in relation to entering Botswana after he was declared a prohibited immigrant last year. The man whom I cannot name at the moment because he is yet to appear in court was arrested at the residence of some of the Chinese nationals in the city”.
Maniki added that as of now, they are not sure when Lei, who is in police custody at Central Police Station, came back to Botswana.
“We are still investigating to find out when Lei returned to Botswana. We are still investigating, which border he used to come to Botswana illegally. After we finish our investigations, we will take Lei to court to answer for his transgressions,” Maniki said.
Although Maniki was not ready to reveal the name of the suspect because he is yet to appear before court, sources close to the matter have confirmed that it is indeed Lei, charged with re-entering Botswana illegally, after he was deported from the country last year.
Last year, the spokesperson for Botswana Police Service (BPS) Witness Bosija said that Lei was arrested at the end of June with close to 500 donkeys on a farm, which has an abattoir on the outskirts of Francistown.
“The suspect is being investigated for cruelty to animals. Government officials have since killed all the donkeys that the suspect was found in possession of. The donkeys were found in a very bad state of health therefore, government officials reached a decision to cull the animals to prevent them from suffering more,” Bosija said.
Bosija said according to their investigations, the donkeys were bought from many regions of the country.
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“Investigations in their nature are a process and not an event. As of now we are not in a position to clearly state why the suspect possessed so many donkeys. We will know that once we conclude our investigations,” Bosija said, adding that, “The suspect is expected to appear in court very soon”.
Donkeys, once a neglected domesticated animal like cattle in many parts of Botswana, are now in high demand because their hide and other by-products are in high demand in Asia.
According to various news reports, many donkeys are at risk of depletion because of the insatiable growing global trade that is wiping out donkey populations, which may end up impoverishing communities.
Recently, the government of Botswana imposed a ban on the export of donkey products, which is said to be a billion dollar business.
News reports also say the donkeys are being killed in growing numbers to feed demand from China where the skins are used to make natural medicine believed to be a sexual stimulant with anti-ageing properties.
The donkey’s hooves are said to contain gelatin, while the meat, consumed in many parts of China, is believed to be more nutritious than beef and is enjoyed in burgers and stews.
Botswana is the sixth African country to impose restrictions on donkey exports following Niger, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso and Gambia.
Zimbabwe turned down an application to build a donkey slaughterhouse, while Ethiopia closed its only functioning donkey abattoir after residents complained about the smell.
But the bans have led to a flourishing illegal trade in donkey skins and caused prices to soar, according to media reports.
Animal rights groups have since issued a plea to many countries to stop the illegal worldwide trade in donkey products.