One of the alleged central players in the so-called Groenewald rhino poaching syndicate, professional hunter Nardus Rossouw, has been released on bail for a second time after paying a R100 000 fine for the illegal possession of rhino horn in a separate case.
Judge Pierre Rabie on Friday granted R30 000 bail to Rossouw, linked to very strict bail conditions.
Rossouw will live with his sister in Pretoria and will notify the investigating officer if he manages to find a job. He may also not leave Gauteng without informing the investigating officer.
He was out on bail in the Groenewald case when he was re-arrested in October last year after being caught in the illegal possession of 11 rhino horn.
He pleaded guilty and was fined R100 000 in the Makopane regional court last month after claiming he did not commit the offences out of greed but because of a misplaced desire “to help a very ill person to get funds”.
The High Court in Pretoria in February this year dismissed an application by Rossouw and one of his co-accused in the Groenewald syndicate matter, Karen Toet, to strike the criminal case against them and six co-accused off the court roll because of the unreasonable delay in the trial.
Their trial was postponed until February 2021 pending a constitutional challenge to the legitimacy of the charges by fellow accused, Polokwane game farmer Dawie Groenewald, and some of the other accused.
He said in an affidavit in support of his new bail application there was no reasonable idea when the constitutional application would be concluded or if their trial would actually commence in February 2021.
Even if their trial did commence in 2021, it could take years to conclude in light of the over 1600 charges (of which he only faced 15), during which time he would have to remain in custody while the other accused were out on bail, he added.
Rossouw said the Polokwane Makopane charges did not relate to rhino poaching, but to unlawfully receiving and being in possession of rhino horn and he had already paid the fine imposed.
He insisted he was not guilty of any other offence, had no cause to abscond and would stand his trial to clear his name of any suspicions leveled against him. He was also prepared to assist authorities in further investigating the pending matter.
US interest in Groenewald
- Dawie Groenewald is alleged to have lured wealthy Americans to hunt rhinos at his farm in Musina and to have sourced rhino horns from other farmers for the illegal international black market. He and his co-accused were arrested in 2010 after over 20 rhino carcasses were excavated at Groenewald’s property.
- The United States Department of Justice appealed to South Africa in 2014 to extradited Groenewald and his brother Janneman to face criminal charges, including money laundering and violating environmental laws, but the process was stalled last year after a Limpopo court overturned their arrest by Interpol.