Shootout, arrests as alleged rhino poachers use luxury vehicles

2017-05-08 13:02
(File, AFP)

(File, AFP)

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North West - Police have disrupted another rhino poaching syndicate which allegedly uses luxury vehicles to commit crimes.

On Saturday, North West police arrested two men and confiscated a luxury model Mercedes Benz, after a rhino was shot and dehorned at a nature reserve near the Botswana border.

It was the tenth rhino killed at the same reserve since February.

Police also recovered two rhino horns, an allegedly stolen firearm, and a Mozambican passport.

The suspects are said to be from the Gyani district in Limpopo.


A massive manhunt is currently underway for a third man - a Mozambican who is wanted by law-enforcement authorities in connection with several poaching incidents around the country - but has so far managed to evade arrest.

According to a police source, gunshots were heard at the reserve on Saturday afternoon.

Vryburg SAPS K9 members, crime intelligence and the provincial tracing unit, with the assistance of neighbouring farmers and workers, immediately began searching for the poachers who were still on the property.

They managed to track down two fleeing suspects, who fired shots at them.

Police members returned fire and wounded one of the suspects, an undocumented foreign national.

Bleeding profusely from his lower body, the man was taken to Ganyesa hospital.

He is expected to survive.

A frontal rhino horn, a 9mm revolver with its serial number removed, and a bag of clothing were recovered.

Luxury cars

Earlier on Saturday, a late model charcoal grey Mercedes Benz had been seen dropping off the suspects at the reserve.

Acting on information, police arrested a 35 year-old man and seized the vehicle at a location in Morokweng late on Saturday night.

They believe the driver was awaiting a signal from the suspects to rendezvous and pick up the illegally obtained loot.

In a follow-up search on Sunday, police recovered the dead rhino's back horn in the veld where it had been discarded during the pursuit.

Cellphones were also picked up as evidence.

By late on Sunday, police had covered nearly 50km in pursuit of the third suspect who had managed to evade capture.

They believe the man, who has been without food or water for more than a day, will be arrested soon.

Earlier this year, a rhino poacher from Gauteng province was killed after an Audi A3 he was travelling in, overturned in North West province.

According to a source, family and friends who had travelled in a convoy including a BMW, an SUV and other expensive vehicles, visited the morgue to identify the corpse.

A month ago, three men were arrested at the border-post with Mozambique after two rhino horns were found concealed in the engine compartment of a Mercedes Benz.

Read more on:    mahikeng  |  rhino poaching  |  poaching  |  crime

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