Panjo's owner in court over weapons arsenal

2017-08-25 11:07
Panjo the hand-reared tiger. (Cornél van Heerden, Netwerk24)

Panjo the hand-reared tiger. (Cornél van Heerden, Netwerk24)

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Johannesburg - The owner of Panjo the famous tiger is set to apply for bail in the Springs Magistrate’s Court on Friday after he was arrested following a police raid during which hand grenades, explosives and 1.5 million bullets for three different types of firearms were found.  

Augusto Perreira Fernandes, 65, appeared briefly in the Springs Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, Netwerk24 reported.  

Fernandes, who made headlines with his attempts to keep his tame tiger Panjo, is being charged with the illegal possession of firearms, ammunition, explosives, equipment to mine gold and contravention of the Firearms Act.

Major General Prince Mokotedi, the Hawks’ boss in Gauteng, said they’d found at least one revolver, 19 hunting rifles, an R5 magazine, 36 igniters, police equipment – including badges and handcuffs – as well as explosives.

According to a police report, hand grenades, flares and 16 shotguns had also been found on the smallholding. Fernandes is said to have used the mining equipment to illegally mine gold, and had produced more than R300 000 in gold dust.

Mokotedi said the Hawks had been watching Fernandes’ activities since February. The possibility is being investigated that he is part of a group involved in other criminal activities and was involved in illegal hunting.

The acting head of the Hawks, Lieutenant General Yolisa Matakata, said in a statement that “arsenals” weren’t welcome in Gauteng and warned “everyone” that the Hawks were watching them. She said the Hawks were increasingly turning their attention to individuals who have unlicensed firearms and explosives and spread fear in their communities.

“We still have to go through all the boxes [sealed boxes stacked to the rafters in the garage]. There probably are more guns and equipment hidden in the yard, and the dog unit will help us with that,” Mokotedi said on Tuesday.

Fernandes was apparently home alone when the Hawks swooped. No gold was found.

Panjo, the Bengal tiger, lounged about on his owners’ leather couches and splashed in pools for years, but the Fernandes family were declared bankrupt in May last year.

They managed to scrape together R400 000 to buy back Panjo and 19 other tigers and lions from the bankrupt estate. 

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  crime

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