Mbombela trial against alleged rhino kingpin postponed

While the state was ready to proceed with the trial against an alleged rhino kingpin and his three co-accused, the defence requested more time to consult with its clients.

The trial of former SAPS employee Big Joe and his three co-accused, who face charges ranging from organised crime to rhino poaching, has been postponed to next week Tuesday.

Joseph Nyalungu (Big Joe), Claude Lubisi, Thembisile Mhlanga and Rachel Qwebane appeared in the Mbombela High Court on Monday.

Nyalunga, a former South African policeman previously stationed at the Hazyview Police Station, is alleged to be a kingpin in rhino poaching.

The other accused were also employed by the SAPS. Mhlanga and Lubisi served at Skukuza Police Station, while Qwebane was a constable attached to the Acornhoek Stock Theft Unit.

The four were initially arrested along with Petros Sidney Mabuza, known to many as Mshengu, before his death on June 17, 2021; and Chief Clyde Mnisi, who was fatally shot, allegedly multiple times, next to the road to the Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport near White River on March 26.

The case was initially investigated by the late Lieutenant Colonel Leroy Bruwer, who was himself shot and killed on his way to work on March 17, 2020.

The four remaining accused face charges of contravention of Section 2(1)(e) of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act 121 of 1988. Additionally, they are charged with conspiracy in violation of the same act. The charges extend to contravention of Section 18(2)(e) of the Riotous Assembles Act 17 of 1956, alleging a conspiracy to contravene Section 57 of the Environmental Management Act 14 of 2013.

Further charges include theft, fraud, unlawful possession of firearms, defeating the ends of justice and money laundering. They are also charged with two counts of contravening Section 4(1)(a), read with Section 1, 2 and 26(1) of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act 12 of 2004.

Mpumalanga National Prosecuting Authority’s spokesperson Monica Nyuswa says the state was ready to proceed with the trial. However, the defence requested more time to consult with its clients, leading to a postponement of the matter to February 27.

Read original story on www.citizen.co.za

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