South Africa: North West Government Welcomes Rhino Phoachers Heavy Sentencing

Tourists on safari in the Kruger National Park (file photo).
press release

The North West Province Department of Economic Development, Environment, Conservation and Tourism (DEDECT) is pleased to announce sentencing of foreign nationals by the Mogwase Magistrate Court following their arrest for the poaching of 3 rhinos in Pilanesberg Nature Reserve in 2018. The poachers were sentenced to a cumulative 85 years imprisonment from ten (10) charges, of which some will run concurrently as each of them will be serving at least 35 years in prison.

"This a big milestone for the Province after losing countless poaching cases in court due to lack of sufficient evidence and prolonged investigations. The North West Parks Board has been working tirelessly with SAPS and a joint operations teams and the public at large to deal with this hideous crime of rhino poaching. Everyone's contribution cannot go unnoticed. We applaud the law enforcement agencies for their outstanding work in ensuring that those responsible for poaching face the might of the law, says the MEC Kenetswe Mosenogi.

The news come after a statement released by NPA this morning on "Hefty Jail Term for Rhino Poachers". The statement alluded to the case being opened since 2 July 2018 after the 3 accused from Mozambique where arrested in Pilanesberg Nature Reserve after being found with rhino horns worth R1.5 million in their vehicle.

The trio was arrested, denied bail and remained in custody until the completion of the trial. This is after they were charged on three counts of illegally killing 3 female rhinos, possession of a prohibited firearm, possession of ammunition; six rhino horns; 6 rhino horns cut from the 3 carcasses, intentionally conveying the rhino horns, theft of three rhino horns and entering a heritage site without permission. The trio's vehicle was confiscated by the state.

The scourge of rhino poaching has been a thorny issue for government, private sector and society at large. The tourism industry promoted a change in legislation to safe guard the national treasure deemed to be 'a tourism asset' that contributes immensely to the country's GDP.

"The tourism sector has suffered a great loss during the COVID-19 pandemic following the decline of the rhino that is 'tourist draw card to our shores. The decline of the rhino is said to bring imbalance to nature and the well-known 'African Big Five'. It is hoped that the arrest will send a clear message to syndicates that there will never be tolerance to poaching let alone plundering of our national assets. This is a testimony to the success of systems that have been put in place to conserve our natural resources. It goes without saying that recognition should be given to officials who are on daily basis putting their lives at the front line to safe our wild life" says MEC Mosenogi.

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