Lente Roode’ sentencing postponed

The sentencing in the matter involving the owner of Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre (HESC), Lente Roode, has been postponed to December 7.

This comes after the court could not precide over the mitigating and aggravating of sentencing proceedings due to the magistrate having an emergency. Roode’s sentencing proceeding was scheduled to take place on Monday, November 15 at Lenyenye Regional Court. She was found guilty on November 3 on all counts for contravening the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act and the Animal Disease Act.

Roode contravened these acts when she moved four male cheetahs named Walter, Magnus, Tobie and Wim on April 4, 2020 without written permission. Limpopo National Prosecuting Authority’s spokesperson, Mashudu Malabi-Dzhangi, said Roode unlawfully ordered that four cheetahs from HESC be released and moved to a neighbouring farm without obtaining the necessary permit to move the protected animals.

“She carried out a restricted activity involving a specimen of a listed, threatened, or protected species without a permit,” she said. Prior to the magistrate handing down the judgement, both the state and the defendant presented their arguments and Roode through her lawyer denied that she acted unlawfully and maintains that she acted in an act of necessity.

Also read: Lente Roode found guilty of contravening environmental act

She said HESC depends on tourism and when that came to a standstill in March 2020 due to Covid-19 they could not afford to feed all the animals. She also argued that she did not have sufficient time to apply for the permits and said when cheetahs are not properly fed they die. The state argued that Roode had the required intention to commit the crimes stipulated. They read out testimony by Lyle Robert Wiggins who is an environmental officer for LEDET within the Klaserie district in Mopani.

His testimony read that he sent all the information through to HESC and on that same evening, Roode called Wiggins and made an enquiry about the permits needed to release four cheetahs onto Kapama. Wiggins explained at length the procedure and requirements for the permit application. “The release of the four cheetahs was in contravention of the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act, as restricted activities were performed without the required permit,” read his testimony.

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