On 7 September 2017, 30-year-old Mapoyisa Mahlauli was sentenced to an effective 20 years imprisonment after he was found guilty in the Skukuza Regional court for various rhino-poaching related crimes.
This is but one of the sentences of direct imprisonment in the ongoing war against endangered species and wildlife crimes in the country. The sentence comes after intensive and thorough investigations by the members of the Endangered Species Unit as well as the Skukuza Stock Theft Unit.
The accused, Mapoyisa Mahlauli, was arrested on 17 March 2016, in the Satara Section of the Kruger National Park. Field rangers were on routine patrol when they were alerted to gunshots. They followed up on the gunshots and they discovered a white rhinoceros cow had been shot dead and her horns sawn off. The field rangers followed the tracks of the suspects. When they found the poachers, a shootout ensued resulting in Mapoyisa being arrested while his accomplice managed to evade arrest. A large calibre hunting rifle, ammunition, an axe and a fresh set of rhinoceros horns were recovered from the scene.
The accused was subsequently charged, convicted and sentenced. His sentences are two years for trespassing in the Kruger National Park, 10 years imprisonment for Illegal hunting of rhino, eight years imprisonment for the possession of a firearm with intent to commit a crime, three years imprisonment for possession of an unlicensed firearm. The accused will serve an effective 20 years in prison as some sentences will run concurrently with others.
The South African Police Service welcomes this sentencing as we believe that this will send a strong message to other potential rhino poachers about the consequences of their actions if caught.