Rhino poachers convicted and sentenced

2018-11-30 21:03
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A joint investigation by the Lehurutshe stock theft unit and Madikwe Game Reserve's rangers yielded results when three men were sentenced for rhino poaching.

According to a police statement issued on Friday, the men were sentenced in the Zeerust Regional Court in North West on Wednesday.

Police spokesperson Captain Sam Tselanyane said the tireless efforts by members of the Lehurutshe stock theft unit and the Madikwe Game Reserve's rangers finally paid off when they arrested Jetro Moyagabo Malema, 44, George Itumeleng Thutlwa, 32, and Joseph Kgosietsile Tsiepe, 41.

READ: SAPS and the dirty truth around rhino poaching

The trio, along with Alfonso Alberto Balate, 44, was caught red-handed and arrested on June 24, 2017, at Madikwe Game Reserve.

"A search was conducted inside the park during the day and night which resulted in the arrest of two suspects who were found in possession of an unlicensed .375 firearm, homemade silencer and knives. 

"During investigation, the team came across one injured rhino. Further investigation led to the arrest of one Etali lodge tracker and the local village chief, who was responsible for organising and accommodating poachers at the village," said Tselanyane.

Balate pleaded guilty and turned State witness and testified against the three.

He was sentenced to six years which was suspended for five years.

Cooperation commended

Malema was convicted on two counts of contravening the National Environmental Management Act, poaching an endangered species, illegal possession of a firearm and illegal possession of ammunition.

He was sentenced to six years, while Thutlwa and Tsiepe were both sentenced to four years' imprisonment or alternatively a fine of R200 000.

Their sentences were suspended for five years on condition that they do not commit the same offence.

READ: Two rhino poaching kingpins back in court

Thutlwa and Tsiepe were also ordered to pay R50 000. They arranged with the court to pay R5 000 monthly for the next 10 months starting from the end of next month.

All three men were declared unfit to possess a firearm. Consequently, Tsiepe was ordered to surrender his firearm with immediate effect.

The North West provincial commissioner, Lieutenant General Baile Motswenyane, lauded the police and game rangers for their cooperation that led to the arrest, conviction and sentencing of the accused for wildlife crimes.  

Motswenyane said that the police working together with other relevant stakeholders and members of the community will show no mercy to criminals.      

Read more on:    poaching
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