Police believe the illegal firearm found in their possession was smuggled through Swaziland’s Oshoek Border Post.
15 December 2016
MBOMBELA – Illegal weapons landed a number of South Africans behind bars on poaching-related charges this week. Most recently, two suspected poachers were apprehended en route to the Kruger National Park (KNP) on Wednesday morning.
Mr Nicole Mbungela (38) and Ms Phyllis Busi Thabethe (40) were arrested on the R40 between Mbombela and Barberton. Lowvelder was on the scene of the arrest. They were charged with possession of an unlicensed firearm and illegal ammunition as well as conspiracy to poach.
Police believe the illegal firearm found in their possession was smuggled through Swaziland’s Oshoek Border Post. Police acted on information from the provincial tracking team and the crime intelligence unit, about a white Nissan NP200 bakkie travelling on the road.
Police stopped the vehicle fitting the description at approximately 09:00. The hunting rifle was hidden underneath the vehicle. A silencer and illegal ammunition as well as a knife and “poaching equipment” were found in the back of the bakkie.
During interrogation by police, the suspects initially refused to say where they were heading.
Provincial spokesman, Sgt Gerald Sedibe, later confirmed that they admitted to being on their way to the KNP.
On Monday Mr Pieter Jansen van Rensburg, his wife, a family member and a guide from Massinger were arrested inside the protected buffer zone of Mozambique’s Parque Nacional de Limpopo (PNL).
Dr Carlos Pereira, the Mozambican director of protection and law enforcement, confirmed to Lowvelder that a docket was opened against Jansen van Rensburg for illegal hunting in a protected area.
Massinger is a hotspot from where many of the Mozambican rhino and elephant poachers hail.
The arrest came shortly after a collared elephant named Charlie was killed in a section of the park that has experienced an increase in ivory poaching.
Charlie’s was one of four elephant carcasses found in the section of the park in the past two weeks. The group was arrested in this particular section. Pereira indicated that they had obtained information that the group were regular visitors. “We confiscated the illegal weapons and ammunition they had with them,” said Pereira. “They attempted to hunt in a national park which is illegal and we detained them on those two charges.”