FIVE suspected rhino poachers arrested during the police’s ongoing Operation Rhino are due to appear in the KwaMbonambi Magistrate’s Court today to face charges of possession of unlicensed firearm and ammunition, trespassing in a national park and illegal hunting.
The five, whose ages range from 31 and 35, were arrested yesterday by the members of the South African Police Service forming part of Operation Rhino, SAPS-led initiative aimed at bringing illegal hunters of rhino and other endangered species to justice.
Two of the suspects are from Mozambique while three are South Africans.
Their arrests bring to 10 the number of suspects arrested in parks in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga in the past six days alone by a Reaction Team which consist of the detectives, the National Intervention Unit (NIU), Forensic Services, the Tracking Team, Tactical Response Team (TRT) and the SA National Parks’ rangers.
During the same operations that led to these successes, as many as three hunting rifles, 20 live rounds of ammunition, silencers, knives and axes were recovered and confiscated.
Five of the other suspects arrested at the weekend have already appeared in courts in both provinces to face possession of firearms and ammunition charges, trespassing, illegal hunting and possession of rhino horns.
Two of the suspects appeared in the Ubombo Magistrate’s Court, the other two in the Ngwelezane Magistrate’s Courts in KwaZulu-Natal while the other one appeared in absentia in the Bushbuckridge Magistrate’s Court in Mpumalanga.
In the same breadth the SAPS is pleased and welcomes the lengthy sentences handed down by the courts for the perpetrators of these crimes.
Three men, Solly Tobela, Simon Ngulele and Sipho Carlos Ngoveni were respectively sentenced to 15 years, 21 years and 12 months in prison for trespassing by the Skukuza Magistrate’s Court.
Enquiries: Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo 082 567 4153