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Media Release: Minister Molewa welcomes the latest rhino poaching arrests
The handing down of stiffer sentences to poachers and the seizure of assets of poaching accused should serve as a message to potential poachers that everything possible will be done to ensure the protection of South Africa’s rhino population.
In the past week five rhino were poached in South Africa, bringing the number of animals killed for their horns to 232, since the beginning of 2013. Four rhino were poached in the Kruger National Park, and one in North West.
Limpopo police arrested two men in Naboomspruit and another four in Soshanguve during investigations into the poaching of a rhino and wounding of another at the Tamboti Floodland Farm earlier this month.
Police said the horns of the one rhino had been removed, while the other rhino survived after being shot twice. Its horns were not removed.
Two AK47 assault rifles were among the items recovered during the arrests.
The six are to apply for bail in Mokopane Magistrate’s Court on April 29, following a brief appearance yesterday on poaching-related charges.
The arrests come two weeks after the theft of 66 rhino horn from a private stockpile near Roedtan in Limpopo. No arrests have yet been made in connection with the case.
The latest arrests bring to 66 the number of people arrested since the beginning of the year for rhino poaching and related activities.
The Minister welcomed successes recently achieved in the courts. Two men have been sentenced by the Phalaborwa Regional Court to 15 years in prison each after being caught poaching a rhino on a private game farm near Hoedspruit in 2011. The men were caught by local rangers only minutes after cutting the horns from a rhino they had shot. They were found in possession of the horns.
In a separate development, the North Gauteng High Court granted a preservation of assets order to the National Prosecuting Authority and the Asset Forfeiture Unit under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act against a suspected rhino poaching ring leader Joseph Nyalunga, a former policeman presently facing charges in the Middelburg Regional Court.
Nyalunga was arrested during an undercover operation on March 2 during which police recovered more than R5 million stashed in a metal coffer in the garage. The order was granted on the basis that the money represented the proceeds of unlawful activities, or was used to commit offences. The Asset Forfeiture Unit had last year seized assets worth more than R3.2 million from the accused.
South Africans are urged to report incidents of poaching and tip-offs to the anonymous tip-off lines 0800 205 005, 08600 10111 or Crime-Line on 32211.
Rhino poaching statistics:
Rhino poaching arrests statistics :
|Eastern Cape (EC)||0||0||2||7|
|North West (NW)||8||32||21||2|
|Free State (FS)||0||6||0||0|
|Western Cape (WC)||0||0||0||2|
|Northern Cape (NC)||0||1||0||0|
For media queries, contact:
Albi Modise on 083 490 2871
The Department of Environmental Affairs