KZN poachers to plead guilty

By Drum Digital
10 April 2013

Two men arrested for rhino poaching in KwaZulu-Natal intend pleading guilty at their next court appearance, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife said on Wednesday.

"The legal representative of Mr Thulani Mbatha, 26, and Mr Israel Muntungowakhe Khoza, 43, has indicated that the accused intend to plead guilty for possession of a rhino horn and illegal hunting of a rhino," spokesman Musa Mntambo said in a statement.

Ezemvelo is a government body tasked with maintaining wilderness areas and public nature reserves in KwaZulu-Natal.

The men appeared in the Utrecht Magistrate's Court on Wednesday for a bail application.

The matter was postponed to April 19, when they were expected to be convicted and sentenced.

Their lawyer told the court he had come across new information while consulting his clients and asked for a postponement.

Khoza and Mbatha were arrested last month when police found them with two rhino horns with an estimated value of R500,000.

"The DNA results of the horns found in their possession have been linked to the rhino that was found poached at Ithala Game Reserve on March 13. The carcass was about 12 days old when it was found and the horns had been meticulously removed."

Khoza was linked to another rhino-related case and was due to appear in another court on Thursday.

"Mr. Khoza will be transferred to Richards Bay as he is expected to appear in court tomorrow for another rhino-related crime he committed in August of 2009.

"He was out on bail when he was arrested on March 15 [this year]," Mntambo said.

-by Sapa

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