Two rhino poachers jailed for 11 years each

2015-09-02 18:04

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Johannesburg - Two rhino poachers have been sentenced to 11 years each behind bars by the White River Magistrate's Court, police said on Wednesday.

Phinias Sithole, 23, and France Nkuna, 22, both Mozambican nationals, were convicted on Monday, spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said in a statement.

They were arrested in the Kruger National Park on October 27 2014.

"The pair was discovered by field rangers in the Lower Sabi section of the Kruger National Park," Naidoo said.

"They were armed with a hunting rifle and an axe and were apprehended on the scene and taken into custody, where they were charged with possession of an unlicensed firearm, unlawful possession of ammunition as well as trespassing."

They were each sentenced to five years in prison for possession of an unlicensed firearm, five years for unlawful possession of ammunition and one year for trespassing, totalling 11 years for each. The sentences would run one after the other.

"Protecting the country’s wildlife is a priority crime for the South African Police Service and this conviction is indicative of how our members work tirelessly to ensure that criminals pay for their crimes," he said.

"This conviction will serve as a deterrent to other would-be poachers; they will know that the task teams will stop them ... even before committing the crime."

On Sunday, Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said 749 rhinos had been poached in South Africa this year, 544 of those in the Kruger National Park.

Read more on:    mbombela  |  rhino poaching
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