SANparks, traffic officials in rhino case

2013-08-06 19:44

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Johannesburg - Three former SA National Parks (SANParks) employees and two traffic officials accused of rhino poaching appeared in the Nelspruit Regional Court on Tuesday.

A Sapa correspondent reported that former SANParks field ranger Tiyani Mabunda, 25, and former field guides Charles Mabunda, 29, and Duncan Mnisi, 34, appeared alongside provincial traffic officer Ellaraine Jennifer Brown, 28, and former traffic official Doctor Ngwenyama, 33.

Ngwenyama, Mnisi and the two Mabundas were arrested last February after two white rhino carcasses were discovered in the Pretoriuskop section of the Kruger National Park.

Brown, who is married to Ngwenyama, was arrested in May after she was suspected of having transported a rhino horn out of the park.

She first appeared in the White River Magistrate's Court last June and was released on R5 000 bail.

The matter was transferred to the Nelspruit Regional Court to be combined with that of her husband and the other accused.

The defence argued that it was not ready for trial as it had not been issued with the proper case documents, including affidavits which had been commissioned.

It asked magistrate Andre Geldenhuys for a postponement so all the documents could be submitted, and that some affidavits could be signed by a commissioner of oaths.

The defence also asked Geldenhuys to suspend some of its clients' bail conditions, including that they should report twice a week at their local police stations.

Bail conditions

Defence lawyer E Sithole argued that his client Charles Mabunda had to travel to Gauteng to look for a job, and asked that he be able to report to any police station across the country.

"My client is from Thulamahashe and he needs this bail condition suspended so he can go look for employment. My instruction is for him to be given a chance to report to any other police station in the country, wherever he would be employed," Sithole told the court.

Geldenhuys said: "I cannot suspend bail conditions for all the suspects. They were imposed by another magistrate in another court, not me....

"I can only suspend [Charles] Mabunda’s bail condition and I will allow him to report once a week to any police station closer to him. That will be communicated with the investigation officer."

Geldenhuys instructed the State to give the defence all the documents it needed.

He said if there was still no progress in the case, he would have no alternative but to strike the case off the roll.

The matter was postponed to 13 August. All the accused are out on bail.

Read more on:    sanparks  |  mbombela  |  conservation  |  rhino poaching

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