Mozambican 'rhino poacher' disappears from police custody

2017-06-24 13:50
FILE: A rhino that has since been killed by poachers at Zululand Rhino Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal.

FILE: A rhino that has since been killed by poachers at Zululand Rhino Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal.

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

East London - The chairperson of the Private Rhino Owners Association, Pelham Jones, has called for heads to roll and answers from government, after a seriously wounded prisoner, believed to be a Mozambican rhino poacher, disappeared from East London’s Frere Hospital without a trace in the early hours of Friday morning.

Management at the hospital refused to comment on the matter on Friday, and the media liaison officer for the Eastern Cape Department of Health Services, Sizwe Kupelo, referred News24 to the South African Police Services. 

"We are not running a prison, we are running a hospital," Kupelo said. 

According to a reliable source who spoke to News24, a police guard who was supposed to be guarding the prisoner, had gone missing and had not been seen for about five hours prior to authorities being notified of  the prisoner’s escape. 

The SAPS would not reveal if the officer had been located, or how they were notified of the prisoner’s escape. 

The escapee was described as a Mozambican rhino poacher who had been shot through the leg and in the arm during a shootout at the Great Fish River Nature Reserve last Thursday. 

'It baffles the brain'

According to a source close to the investigation, the wounded poacher’s condition was so serious, "he could not have escaped without help from both the inside and the outside". 

A .375 caliber rifle, fitted with a silencer, and 12 rounds of ammunition were recovered from the wounded suspect, while his accomplice managed to escape.  

The wounded suspect was moved to Frere Hospital in East London for emergency treatment. 

"It baffles the brain how armed police officers cannot manage to keep a seriously injured prisoner escaping from police custody. If they cannot be trusted to do just that and what they are paid to do in the name of public service, then how on earth can we rely on them to defend the public against other dangerous criminals?" Jones asked. 

"This makes a complete mockery of any reasonable law enforcement standards this country is supposed to uphold.  

"If one looks at this latest debacle in the context of recent blunders by the law enforcement and case management authorities, it makes one wonder at their policing capabilities and prosecutorial efficacy.

"To make matters worse, it is totally demoralising to those dedicated policemen and women, and anti-poaching unit members fighting the bloodiest poaching crisis this country has ever seen," Jones said. 

Police busy 'tracking the suspect'

SAPS spokesperson Captain Kaya Tonjeni told News24 that all hospitalised prisoners are normally kept under 24-hour watch by police officers working 12-hour shifts.

He could not confirm or comment on rumours that the prisoner had escaped in leg irons, and that his handcuffs were found attached to the hospital bed. 

"He could be on his way to Lourenco Marques [Maputo]," Tonjeni said. 

In a written response to the News24 inquiry, he wrote: "The East London SAPS confirmed a 35-year-old male suspect has escaped from lawful police custody at Frere Hospital in East London early today. He was arrested and charged for rhino poaching in Alice. 

"Circumstances around this escape form part of our investigation, and disciplinary steps will be taken if it is discovered that the member who was on guard during the escape has acted negligently. 

"Police are busy with efforts of tracking the suspect and re-arresting him. Members of the public are warned to alert the nearest police whenever they see the suspect in their vicinity."

Read more on:    mozambique  |  east london  |  conservation  |  rhino poaching

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
Partner Content
How data is changing investments

Technological disruption is rife in many spheres of business and given the quantity of data available, it’s no surprise that the way in which asset managers work is also changing fast.

Behind the sparkle

Alluring, beautiful and timeless - diamonds are some of the most sought after gems in the world and are a true testament of everlasting brilliance. Let us take you behind the sparkle to show you the history behind this coveted jewel.

/News
 

Fascinating facts about dogs

Think you know a lot about dogs? How many of these facts do you know?

 
 

Paws

Out with the old dog, in with the new
Play with your pet when you're not at home
How to get rid of fleas
12 Cool cat facts
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.