Game farmer jailed for rhino horns
Marietie Louw-Carstens, Beeld
Polokwane - A Limpopo game farmer has been sentenced to an effective eight years in prison for his involvement in rhino poaching, and has also been ordered to pay the Green Scorpions R1m.
Jacques Els, 39, from Thabazimbi, is also in danger of having his assets seized.
Fellow accused, Maremani game farm manager Tommy Fourie, committed suicide.
Magistrate Pat Cloete granted Els R300 000 bail pending an application for leave to appeal.
No rhino killed
During sentencing, Cloete said he had read in newspapers of all the rhinos that had been killed in Limpopo last week.
“It is taking on astronomical proportions. It has to be stopped.”
State prosecutor André Weideman told the Makhado Magistrate's Court that the case was exceptional because Els was not involved in the killing of any rhino.
He broke the Limpopo environmental law, which did not allow for trading, possession and transport of rhino horn without permits.
Not one of the rhino whose horns were found in Els’s possession had been killed. The animals had been sedated and their horns were cut off.
The Green Scorpions arrested Els in October 2010. He had bought 30 rhino horns from Fourie for R760 000. Fourie had cut off the horns.
Fourie was nabbed in September 2010 and appeared in court with Els. He committed suicide in November 2010.
On Tuesday, Els was sentenced to 10 years, two of which were suspended, for the illegal possession of 30 rhino horns.
He was also sentenced to four years for the illegal possession of another eight horns of his own rhino. He wanted to sell them without permits. This was suspended for five years.
On this charge, Cloete ordered that Els paid R1m in instalments of R100 000 a month to the National Wildlife Crime Reaction Unit, also called the Green Scorpions.
Els’s legal team immediately applied for bail, which was paid on Tuesday afternoon.
The State also asked the court for the national prosecuting authority’s asset forfeiture unit to be given permission to seize Els’s property.
He will appear in court again on July 2.