Popular Pretoria pastor nabbed for alleged poaching

2019-06-04 18:23
Police have nabbed three suspected poachers, including a pastor in Limpopo. (Gallo Images/Netwerk24/Deaan Vivier)

Police have nabbed three suspected poachers, including a pastor in Limpopo. (Gallo Images/Netwerk24/Deaan Vivier)

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A popular Pretoria pastor is in police custody in Limpopo after he and three other men were arrested on allegations of attempting to poach wild animals in Limpopo.

Police wounded one of the suspects after a car chase and shootout.

The suspects were found in possession of weapons and ammunition similar to those used by poachers.

The pastor, whose name police is not making public until he appears in court, was arrested on Monday night after a Limpopo police joint operation and members of the Farm Watch intercepted information about an alleged poaching syndicate driving around the Hoedspruit area, Limpopo.

Police spokesperson Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe said when the suspects saw the police, they fled in their vehicle and police gave chase.

"An intelligence driven joint operation comprising of the Tactical Response Team (TRT) and members of the Farm Watch have, in the Hoedspruit policing area outside Phalaborwa, made a major breakthrough after they intercepted and arrested a well-known pastor from Pretoria with his two accomplices.

"This joint operation followed information about a poaching criminal syndicate in the area. The suspects were travelling in a Land Cruiser motor-vehicle along the R40 Road on Monday night when members of the joint operation spotted them," said Ngoepe.

The Land Cruiser vehicle fitted the description from the tip-off police received.

Ngoepe said police ordered the occupants of the vehicle to stop and the suspects refused to cooperate.

"A motor vehicle chase ensued until the suspects started shooting at the police who retaliated. One of the three suspects was shot and arrested together with the pastor and another man. During their arrest, police recovered a hunting rifle, a silencer, four rounds of live ammunition, a knife and an axe. Police have also confiscated the vehicle the suspects were travelling in," he said.

Police are profiling the suspects to determine if they could be linked to similar offences in the province.

"Our investigations are at a sensitive state. Judging by the weapons recovered from the suspects' possessions, our police investigators might connect them to illegal poaching cases," said Ngoepe.

The suspects are expected to appear in the Hoedspruit Magistrate's Court soon, on charges of attempted murder and conspiracy to commit illegal poaching.

Read more on:    polokwane  |  poaching
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