Poaching gang in court

2014-09-22 19:31

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Johannesburg - Ten alleged members of a rhino poaching syndicate, including a police officer and a lawyer, appeared briefly in the Hatfield Magistrate's Court, Pretoria, on Monday, the Hawks said.

"All the accused were arrested on Friday in four provinces," spokesperson Captain Paul Ramaloko said.

The lawyer, Joseph Wilkinson, brought an urgent bail application in the High Court in Pretoria on Saturday. The court indicated the charges against him were serious and denied him bail, Ramaloko said.

"All suspects are in custody."

The other accused are the alleged ringleader Hugo Ras, his wife Trudie Ras, Hugo's brother Anton Ras, Hugo's brother-in-law Arno Smith, Ficksburg pilot Bonnie Steyn, Hawks Warrant Officer Willie Oosthuizen, Christoffel Scheepers, Mandla Magagula, and Willem van Jaarsveld.

They are aged between 30 and 50.

The group appeared on charges including theft, fraud, malicious damage to property, money laundering, intimidation, and illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.

They were allegedly involved in killing 22 rhino and mutilating two others between 2008 and 2012. In total, the syndicate allegedly illegally obtained 84 rhino horns and killed 22 rhino valued at nearly R22m.

Ramaloko said Hugo Ras was arrested in the Pretoria North Magistrate's Court on Friday while appearing on a separate rhino poaching case.

The nine others were arrested simultaneously in Polokwane in Limpopo, Ficksburg in the Free State, Potchefstroom in North West, and in Montana, Mamelodi and Kameeldrift in Gauteng.

The case was postponed to Monday for a bail application.

Read more on:    hawks  |  pretoria  |  rhino poaching

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