South Africa: Hawks Arrest Another Suspect in a Rhino Horns Syndicate Case

press release

Pretoria — The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation has arrested yet another suspect with alleged links to the key six member rhino horns syndicate that was rounded up in Mpumalanga on Tuesday.

The 33 year old police female constable from Acornhoek Stock Theft Unit was nabbed this morning after she had briefly evaded arrest on Tuesday and yesterday. She is expected to appear at the Hazyview Magistrate Court today and will face similar charges as her co accused.

Meanwhile, the six syndicate members allegedly behind massive trafficking of poached rhino horns will be back at the White River Magistrate court on 27 September 2018.

Phenias Lubisi (56), former station commander of Skukuza who is now working at Culcatta, Xolani Lubisi (33), former police officer at Culcatta, Constable Thembisile Mhlanga (30) from Skukuza SAPS, Clyde Mnisi (33) the alleged right hand man, Petrus Mabuza Mshengu (53) and former police officer at White River SAPS Joe Nyalunga (54) were charged with theft, conspiracy to commit a crime, illegal buying and selling of rhino horns, corruption and money laundering in court yesterday.

The six were arrested in various areas in Mpumalanga on Tuesday by the Hawks' Wildlife Trafficking Unit supported by Provincial Detectives, Serious Violence Crime Investigation, Provincial Stock Theft and Endangered Species Unit, Counter intelligence, Special Task Force, SAPS Forensic Science Service, SANParks, the Department of Environmental Affairs, the National Prosecution Authorities, SARS Debt and Customs.

Members found and seized luxury vehicles and motorbikes, trucks, disclosed amount of cash, animal skins, properties and a lot of alleged stolen items estimated to run into millions of rands.

The significant breakthrough follows a Project Broadbill by the Wildlife Trafficking Section of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation. The project focused on the criminal supply chain of poached rhinos within the Kruger National Park, KwaZulu Natal, Gauteng and other private or state owned reserves. The syndicate members allegedly ran poaching groups with the support of corrupt police officials and other officials from the protected areas.

The operation continues.

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