It was a successful day for a multi-task team of detectives from the Endangered Species Unit, SANParks, Focused Conservation Solutions, Hoedspruit SAPS, and Hoedspruit Farm Watch when they made a breakthrough by arresting five suspects for rhino poaching.
The suspects were arrested on Tuesday and are expected to appear in court in due course. The intelligence-driven operation led to the confiscation of one 303 hunting rifle, 10 live rounds of ammunition, and an axe.
The managing executive of the Kruger National Park (KNP), Oscar Mthimunye, says the arrests sends a message to all criminals.
“The message is loud and clear; criminality does not pay, and the cooperation between different stakeholders and law enforcement agencies is biting hard to ensure the safety of our natural resources. Our tight security systems are making it difficult for criminals to operate with impunity, and the courts are giving appropriate sentences. We are grateful to all who are with us in fighting this worthy cause,” he said.
In another related incident, SANParks congratulated the NPA in Mpumalanga after the Skukuza Regional Court convicted and sentenced a rhino poacher to an effective 22-year jail term yesterday.
Enoch Ngobeni was arrested on April 23 after Rangers heard gunshots and ran into two individuals while investigating the source of the shots. One was armed with a gun, and the other had two fresh rhino horns in the Lower Sabie / Tshokwane Sections of the KNP. Ngobeni’s accomplice, who had the rifle, managed to evade arrest.
The court found Ngobeni guilty on six counts and sentenced him as follows: two years for trespassing, one year for illegal immigration, 10 years for restricted activity in a national park, which is hunting a rhino, 10 years for the restricted activity of hunting a rhino, four years for conspiracy to commit a crime, and one year for possession of a dangerous weapon.
The court ordered these sentences in counts one and two to run concurrently, as well as counts four, five, and six, resulting in an effective 22-year imprisonment for Ngobeni.
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