South Africa: Swift End to Nearly 10-Year Rhino Poaching Trial

analysis

Three poachers are finally convicted of killing a rhino in KwaZulu-Natal: A magistrate lost his patience after a decade of delays -- prosecution and defence sources estimated that somewhere between 12 and 25 defence attorneys had been engaged and later dismissed by the accused.

One of the world's longest rhino poaching trials came to a swift and decisive conclusion on Monday, 25 March when a Durban magistrate lost patience after nearly 10 years of "deliberate and unreasonable delays" by three men who tried, but ultimately failed, to drag out their trial indefinitely.

Convicting all three poachers based on the "overwhelming evidence" placed before him, senior Regional Court Magistrate Logan Naidoo declared that it would have been a travesty to allow the three men to continue holding the justice system to ransom any longer.

The three men, Muntugokwakhe Khoza, 50, Ayanda Buthelezi, 40, and SANDF officer Mduduzi Xulu, 51, were arrested on 26 August, 2009, hours after a rhino was gunned down in the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve -- the world cradle of white rhino conservation, where this species was brought back from the brink of extinction almost a century ago by the Natal Parks Board.

More than 7,000 rhinos have been...

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