We urge the courts to continue throwing the book at poachers as we believe that nothing short of hefty jail sentences will deter poachers intent on plundering our critically endangered species."
That was the message from the Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs MEC, Mr Sihle Zikalala, when welcoming a decision by the Empangeni Magistrate's Court to hand down a total of 30 years to four criminals arrested in connection with rhino poaching.
The four men, Mduduzi Magwaza, Emmanuel Xulu, Bonginhlanhla Khumalo and Vela Madela were respectively sentenced to 9, 12, 6 and 3 years in jail. The four were facing charges of rhino poaching and the possession of illegal firearms and ammunition.
Zikalala, whose Environmental Affairs portfolio includes Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, commended law enforcement agencies, including game rangers, and communities residing in the vicinity of game parks for working together to bring the suspects to book.
"We have no doubt that these kinds of sentences will act as deterrent to syndicates that butcher our natural resources. Rhino poaching not only threatens the very existence of these majestic beasts that are an integral part of our ecosystem but also has the potential to adversely affect tourism."
KwaZulu-Natal, as part of the anti-rhino poaching strategy, had boosted Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife's staff complement by recruiting close to 20 additional Security Personnel to be deployed in 10 rhino reserves. "In partnership with the Department of Environmental Affairs at national level, we have also appointed 412 Environmental Monitors who have been deployed in 23 Ezemvelo protected areas and their roles include include educating communities living adjacent to protected areas about the importance of conservation in general and rhinos in particular," added Zikalala.
Issued by: KwaZulu-Natal Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs