'Rhino poachers' held in Limpopo
Johannesburg - Nine men have been arrested by the Modimolle stock theft unit for alleged rhino poaching in Limpopo in the past few weeks, police said on Wednesday.
"In the most recent incident, four suspects were arrested while they were on their way to allegedly shoot rhinos at a private game reserve near Lephalale," said Lieutenant Colonel Ronel Otto.
After receiving information about a possible shooting attempt in the area, police arrested the men at a roadblock near Vaalwater on Tuesday.
The men's vehicle was confiscated as well as an axe and a .303 hunting rifle.
"It has since been established that the rifle was stolen during a house breaking at Kameeldrift outside Pretoria," she said.
The four men, three from Zimbabwe and one from Mozambique, would appear in the Lephalale Magistrate's Court on Thursday.
In a separate incident about three weeks ago, five men were arrested for allegedly attempting to poach rhino on a private game reserve.
Otto said the owners of the game reserve found human tracks on the farm and alerted the police. Police trackers and private helicopters were called in and assisted with the search for poachers.
"Five suspects, all from Zimbabwe, were arrested in the veld. Two firearms, a .308 hunting rifle and a .303 hunting rifle were confiscated," she said.
The men had appeared in court and their case was remanded to "some time in August", she said.
She said it had since been established that the men could also be linked to incidents of housebreaking at Lephalale and Stockpoort, from where the firearms were allegedly taken.