Mpuma ex-cop in court for poaching

Johannesburg - A former police officer accused of being a rhino poaching ringleader is due to appear in the Middelburg Regional Court in Mpumalanga on Thursday.

Joseph Nyalunga faces charges of illegal hunting of rhino, dealing and possession of rhino horn, racketeering and money-laundering, the office of the director of public prosecutions (DPP) in Pretoria said on Wednesday.

Regional DPP spokesperson Medupe Simasiku said Nyalunga was caught at a stop and search operation in December last year.

Four horns, two large and two smaller ones, were allegedly found behind the seat of his Colt bakkie. Cash was also found.

It was believed the horns were from two rhino killed in the Kruger National Park.

At the time of his arrest, Nyalunga was unemployed, Simasiku said.

He had no legitimate income and could not explain the huge amount of cash that the police found in his possession.

"However, he bought a [Toyota] Fortuner cash for R290 000 during May 2011 and a Range Rover cash for R640 000 the following month."

In court papers, the National Prosecuting Authority submitted that both vehicles were used in the commission of the crime.

Last week Friday, the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria granted a preservation of property order to the Asset Forfeiture Unit to seize Nyalunga's assets.

Property amounting to R4m was seized.

Nyalunga is currently in custody.

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