Poacher launches appeal bid

2014-11-20 19:43
Ezemvelo Wild Life.

Ezemvelo Wild Life.

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Pietermaritzburg - An Empangeni taxi driver, who killed a rhino in the iMfolozi game reserve, appealed against his conviction and sentence in the High Court on Thursday.

Ngemfu Khoza, 29, who was wounded in an arm and leg in a shoot-out with park rangers, was sentenced to five years for the rhino killing, and given heavier sentences for unlawful possession of two hunting rifles and ammunition. He was given a sentence of in effect 20 years.

He and two other poachers were arrested in the park by ranger Mandla Hlengiwe and colleagues on Christmas night 2010. They were convicted and sentenced by Ulundi regional magistrate IM Xolo in April 2011.

Hlengiwe told the trial court he was at home in the reserve when gunshots were heard. He and his colleagues Sipho Khumalo, Jethro Buthelezi and David Dlamini, went to investigate. By moonlight they encountered an elephant herd and they climbed over the boundary fence to avoid them.

They found footprints and went to where they thought the suspects were. They heard voices from inside the reserve.

The rangers identified themselves and ordered the poachers to drop their guns, but they responded by cocking their rifles.

The rangers fired at them and after a while went over to them and found two of them, including Khoza, wounded. They found two horns taken from a rhino, two axes, two hunting rifles, and ammunition.

The group admitted that they had hacked off the rhino's horns. A white rhino carcass was found about a kilometre from the place of arrest later.

Judges Rashid Vahed and Peter Olsen adjourned the appeal to a date still to be decided.

Read more on:    ezemvelo kzn wildlife  |  pietermaritzburg  |  rhino poaching

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