Bail for 3 members of ‘rhino poaching syndicate’

2014-12-30 11:16

Three of the 10 alleged members of a rhino poaching syndicate accused of killing 22 rhino over several years were granted bail in the High Court in Pretoria.

The 10 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 David Jacobus Steyn, Hawks Warrant Officer Willie Oosthuizen, Christoffel Scheepers, Mandla Magagula, Willem van Jaarsveld, and lawyer Joseph Wilkinson.

Six of the 10 were previously granted bail.

Yesterday Judge Winston Msimeki granted Trudie Ras R15 000 bail. Steyn and Van Jaarsveld got bail of R10 000 each, Beeld reported. They had appealed against the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court’s previous refusal to grant them bail.

The 10 face 318 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.

In September, Hugo Ras was arrested in the Pretoria North Magistrate’s Court 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.

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