Ex-soldier in court for Kruger poaching

2015-09-01 17:55

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Mbombela - A former South African National Defence Force (SANDF) soldier has appeared in court on 18 counts relating to illegal activities in the Kruger National Park.

Leonard Mashego appeared in the Nelspruit Regional Court with his co-accused, Michael Sithole, on Tuesday.

They both pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

They were arrested after a shootout involving rangers in the Stolsnek area of the Kruger National Park on September 19 2010.

Mashego was found inside the park shortly after the rangers came across a dehorned rhino carcass.

Sithole was on the other side of the fence, where he claimed he was looking for cattle.

The two accused face five counts of performing illegal activities in the park, five of restricted activity involving a threatened species, four of possession of illegal firearms and four of illegal possession of ammunition.

On Tuesday Sithole's defence attorney Daniel Mabunda asked the court for a postponement, saying he was not ready to continue the matter.

According to testimony presented by the rangers, Mashego was armed with a hunting rifle and pointed it at them, which led to a shootout.

Mashego was shot and wounded and was taken to hospital.

State prosecutor Isbet Erwee told the court that there was a discrepancy after one digit of the serial number of the 303 British Calibre Bolt Action rifle and ammunition found in Mashego's possession was omitted.

Erwee admitted it was an error made by the officer who filed out the report and the discrepancy had been corrected.

Magistrate André Geldenhuys said after the discrepancy was rectified, the accused and his defence admitted he was the lawful owner of the firearm and ammunition.

Mashego said he would be apply for the charges related to the firearms to be dropped.

Geldenhuys postponed the case to September 21 for Sithole's application to be heard.

Read more on:    kruger national park  |  sandf  |  mbombela  |  rhino poaching

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