'Professional jealousy' behind case against hunter - association

2016-05-10 14:03


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Mbombela – An Mpumalanga hunting association suspects one of its members, who is facing criminal charges for possession of elephant tusks and leopard skins, may be the victim of "professional jealousy". 

"I have known [Anton] Smit for the past 25 years of my life. We even went to the same high school in Nelspruit. We as an organisation are very suspicious about the allegations brought against Smit. We do suspect professional jealousy at play," chairperson of the Mbombela office of the Lowveld Hunters and Game Conservation Association, Leon Steenkamp, said.

He said they had discussed Smit’s case at a meeting in Mbombela recently and would not take any action against him until they had proof of wrongdoing.

The South African Hunters and Game Conservation Association, meanwhile, criticised Smit, a professional hunter, for telling a magistrate that he was not aware it was illegal to have leopard skins and tusks without a permit.

Smit, 38, should have known he was in breach of the law when he was arrested in Mbombela for driving with the skins and tusks without a permit, the association’s chief executive Fred Camphor said.

"Mere possession of both of these articles requires at least a Threatened or Protected Species (TOPS) possession permit. For any of the protected species, the principles will be exactly the same throughout the country. An individual should have at least a TOPS possession permit to hold such a trophy," he said on Tuesday.

Smit was not asked to plead to charges of illegally possessing leopard skins and elephant tusks when he appeared in the Nelspruit Magistrate’s Court last Friday.

While there were different rules for different situations, in Smit's case the rules were clear. The nature and type of the product would determine which licences or permits were required. These could include CITES import and export permits and TOPS possession and transport permits, Camphor said.

Smit was expected back in court on Wednesday. He was previously released on a warning. His lawyer, Coert Jordaan, expected the case to be postponed for further investigation.

Read more on:    mbombela  |  conservation

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