Vryburg - Two Mpumalanga wildlife operators could face a string of sentences if convicted on game-theft and illegal medicines possession charges.
This after they were busted with a van full of wild animals and an illegal arsenal of scheduled veterinary medicines in North West at the weekend Rudy Cavina, 45, of Kiepersol, and Johannes "Mossie" Mostert, 48, of Hazyview, were out on bail facing charges from an earlier case in their home province when they were nabbed by law enforcement authorities in North West on Saturday.
The duo appeared in the Vryburg Magistrate's court on Monday, and were released on R1 000 bail.
According to police spokesperson Captain Charlize Van der Linden, Vryburg police and stock-theft unit members pounced on the pair and searched their Peugeot panel-van on a rural North West road following a tip-off.
Police found 12 live steenbok crammed into a wooden game crate that had been fixed and attached to the vehicle's interior, a box of various scheduled game-capture drugs including a bottle of the lethal rhinoceros tranquilizer M-99 stashed under a seat, an unlicensed dart-rifle, a net-capture gun, darts, hunting spotlights, and other equipment inside their vehicle.
It is alleged the game capture drugs were either stolen or obtained illegally.
"The suspects were not able to produce permits for either the animals or the medicines in the van, nor licenses for the weapons. They were subsequently arrested," Van der Linden said.
"The frightened animals were not even able to turn around or move in the crates. They were taken to a place of safety and later released back to the wild," she added.
An eight-year-old boy, believed to be Cavina's son, was also found in the van.
News24 understands the child has since been in the care of a family friend while the pair spent the weekend in jail. Cavina and Mostert also face charges in a separate matter.
Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) investigator on Monday confirmed to News24 that Cavina and Mostert are suspects in a criminal case connected to illegally captured game animals.
He said Cavina and Mostert, and another suspect, Yinay Mostert, were arrested in a joint sting operation in March and were charged for the illegal possession of wildlife medicine and darting equipment, as well as the illegal possession of wild animals.
They allegedly had an illegal dart gun and schedule 3, 4, 5 and 6 veterinary drugs in their possession, while two sedated fallow deer were found in their vehicle.
The MTPA and SAPS later obtained a search warrant for Cavina’s property farm in the Kiepersol area, where they found firearms and evidence of bombs being built.
"The matter is now being handled by the Graskop's Stock-Theft Unit," he said.
On August 24, Cavina and the two Mosterts are scheduled to appear in the Graskop Magistrate's Court in Mpumalanga for the results of a forensic report stemming from their arrest in March.