3 rhino poaching suspects held
Buks Viljoen, Beeld
Nelspruit - Badplaas police dealt a blow to rhino poaching on Friday night when they arrested three suspected poachers outside the Mpumalanga town.
One of the three is apparently wanted in KwaZulu-Natal for his alleged involvement in a crime syndicate that specialises in rhino poaching.
The alleged poachers were apparently on their way to the 50 000ha Songimvelo game reserve near Barberton when police caught up with them.
The suspects have apparently also been wanted by police for the past few weeks, after they allegedly kidnapped and severely assaulted a member of the syndicate.
Apparently they thought the person was a police informant who had infiltrated the syndicate. The man was dropped at the side of the road near Badplaas with serious injuries two weeks ago.
According to a source close to the investigation, it seems the syndicate hoped he would die before being found.
However, the man survived and provided the police and a special task team of the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) with valuable information regarding rhino poaching.
The police were manning a road block on Friday a few kilometres outside Badplaas when the suspects arrived in a bakkie. Shooting lamps, pangas and many .303 and AK-47 rounds were discovered in the vehicle.
The suspects later led the police to a house in a private nature reserve near Badplaas where a .303 and an AK-47 rifle were found. The two illegal weapons were hidden in long grass in a cemetery.
They were supposedly going to use the firearms to kill a rhino on Friday night.
They also admitted that they have shot and killed several rhinos in the Songimvelo reserve over the past year.
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