Rhino case: Guards poisoned by hunters

Johannesburg - Security guards at game reserves were given food laced with poison by a man who allegedly headed a rhino horn poaching syndicate, Netwerk24 reported on Tuesday.

This allegation is contained in a statement by Colonel Johan Jooste, national commander of the police's endangered species unit, in opposition to bail being granted to Hugo Ras in the Pretoria Magistrate's Court.

Ras and his co-accused apparently went on reconnaissance missions to reserves and farms.

He sometimes sent someone to buy the poison Aldicarb which was put in food then given to security guards as a gift, to make them drowsy.

Ras, a professional hunter, is one of 10 people charged with crimes relating to the killing and mutilation of rhino and the theft of rhino horn.

They face 318 charges including theft, illegally hunting rhino and possession of 84 rhino horn.

Of 13 of the poaching incidents, 24 rhino were shot with a gun, or darted with very high doses of M99 - a veterinary anaesthetic - which would kill them.

Ras's wife Trudie reportedly allegedly handled payments to rhino poachers and accommodation costs, and was seen counting out money in front of a man of Eastern origin.

Six of the accused were granted bail previously.

The application was postponed.

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