Over the past week, 18 suspects were arrested and one fatally wounded while five others who were involved in rhino poaching were found guilty and sentenced to a collective 30 years and none months imprisonment.
The South African Police Service and game rangers throughout South Africa refuse to give up on the on-going battle against rhino poaching. In the effort to reduce this scourge, 18 suspects have been arrested in Skhukuza, Hluhluwe, Barberton, KwaMsane, Nongoma and Gluckstadt during this past week.
Two (2) rhino horns, eight (8) unlicensed firearms, ammunition, two (2) silencers, a scope, an axe, a knife, two (2) cellphones, two (2) motor vehicles were recovered during these various operations conducted.
Most of the suspects have since appeared in various courts on charges of unlawful possession of arms and ammunition, possession of dangerous weapon, trespassing, hunting a protected animal, kidnapping, assault, possession of rhino horns and/or possession of suspected stolen properties.
In the meantime other accused have been found guilty and sentenced in the Skhukuza Regional Court this week. Maphoyisa Mahlaule was found guilty in the Skhukuza of hunting a protected animal, possession of unlicensed firearm, unlawful possession of ammunition and trespassing and sentenced to an effective 20 years imprisonment.
Three accused, Dumisani Mathebula, Paul Julio Mhibiri and Paul Ubisi were convicted and sentenced to:
Count 1 Trespass – 2 years
Count 2. Possession of unlicensed firearm – 2 years
Count 3. Possession of firearm with intent to commit a crime – 3 years
Count 4. Conspiracy to commit a crime – 4 years
Count 5. Unlawful possession of ammunition – 18 months
Count 6. Illegal immigrant – 3 months
Count 4 and 6 are to run concurrently as well as Count 2, 3 and 5
Lastly, Bukani Mbele was found guilty and convicted for illegal hunting and possession of rhino horns for cases at Hlabisa and KwaMsane respectively. He was sentenced to six (6) years imprisonment, three years for each case.
The partnership of the police and park rangers in this continuing challenge is vital, and has borne results once again.