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Media Release: Pilot pays fine for illegal landing in a national park

Date: 2011-09-30

The incident happened during an air show held in All Days in Limpopo on 17 and 18 September 2011, where SANParks Rangers spotted a helicopter with registration ZS-HBH on Friday, 17 September and again on Saturday, 18 September. It appears the occupants disembarked from the helicopter and enjoyed a picnic in the Limpopo River. Thereafter the helicopter conducted illegal low flying manoeuvres over the park.


According to SANParks Environmental Crime Investigation (ECI) officers, the ownership of the helicopter with registration ZS-HBH indicated that it belonged to Mr Dawie Groenewald who was arrested last year on charges of illegal rhino related matters.


However Mr Groenewald was not present during the fly over and the subsequent illegal landing in Mapungubwe National Park, but his pilot Mr Johannes Dirk Stone who was flying the helicopter at the time admitted guilt and paid the fine. 


He was charged by SANParks ECI) officers for contravening Section 47(2) (a) and Section 47(3) of the National Environmental Management Protected Areas Act (Act 57/2003).


An admission of guilt fine to the amount of R 2000.00 was issued to Mr Stone. Mr Stone paid the fine on Monday 29 August 2011.


SANParks spokesperson Reynold Thakhuli said this incident should be a lesson to those who think they could disregard the rules and regulations that governs the national parks… “We will deal with them decisively all in an effort to protect our heritage.”


He said this incident happens against a background of the recent reports on illegal flying of helicopters over some private game reserves in South Africa and the subsequent darting of rhinos from the helicopters.


Issued by:
SANParks Corporate Communications


For media enquiries contact:
Reynold “Rey” Thakhuli – GM: Media Liaison and Stakeholder Relations on Tel (012) 426 5203 / 073 373 4999, e-mail: rey.thakhuli@sanparks.org


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