Alleged rhino poachers nailed en route to Gauteng

While police already have four suspected rhino poachers in custody, they are still searching for a fifth.

Four suspected rhino poachers have been arrested as a result of a joint law enforcement operation.

According to SAPS’ provincial spokesperson Colonel Malesela Ledwaba, a tip-off about poaching activities was received.

A joint operation was then launched by the Provincial Stock Theft and Endangered Species Unit, Modimolle K9, Waterberg Flying Squad Team, Modimolle LCRC, Welgevonden Reaction, HPG and the Modimolle police.

They were assisted by a private security chopper to help locate two suspects who fled.

On January 29 at approximately 07:00, a white Kia and Chevrolet Spark were travelling on the N1 towards Gauteng.

When the police stopped the Kia at the Kranskop tollgate, a man and woman fled into the bushes. A 56-year-old man, sitting in the back seat, was arrested, and police found a rhino horn wrapped in tinfoil.

The woman was arrested at about 22:00 along the R101 near Radium, where she was waiting for a car to pick her up.

The police called in further reinforcements and were assisted by members of the Gauteng Tactical Response Team, the Police Anti-Gang Unit, Tracker Connect, Cap Specialised Operation, GTP Saturation Unit and the ICB-Insurance Crime Bureau to help in the search for the Chevrolet Spark.

The search led them to Sky City, in the Klipriver area in Gauteng.

The car was found parked at a house with two men inside. Upon searching the vehicle, the police found an unlicensed hunting rifle with ammunition, two cellphones and knives that were possibly used to de-horn the rhino.

A rifle and hunting knives possibly linked to the poaching of a rhino were found in the suspects’ possession.

The men were immediately arrested.

A manhunt for the other suspect who evaded an arrest at the tollgate is underway.

According to Warrant Officer Pieter Booyse of the Modimolle police, the police found a rhino carcass in the Lowveld. DNA results will determine whether it is linked to the horn that was found.

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