Kruger National Park rhino poacher gets 53 years, will serve less than half

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Johan founded Saving the Survivors, an NGO aimed at treating injured wild animals. (PHOTO: Papi Morake)
Johan founded Saving the Survivors, an NGO aimed at treating injured wild animals. (PHOTO: Papi Morake)
  • A man has been sentenced to 53 years in jail for rhino poaching but will effectively serve less than half of that.
  • He absconded after he got bail in one rhino poaching case and was arrested on similar charges two years later.
  • His co-accused is still on the run.

A 39-year-old Mozambican man was sentenced to 53 years in jail this week for rhino poaching - but he will only serve an effective 23 years.

Mike Nyathi's sentence was handed down in the Skukuza Regional Court on Friday.

Nyathi, who has South African citizenship, was first arrested on 17 September 2017 by rangers in the Kingfisherspruit Section of the Kruger National Park,

The rangers found a limping rhino that had been shot (and later died due to its injuries and followed the spoor of Nyathi and his accomplice. 

They were found hiding in an area not far from the injured rhino, according to South African National Parks (SANParks).

They were arrested and given bail but both failed to appear in court and absconded.

Nyathi was eventually rearrested in 2019 and his co-accused is still on the run.

"On 13 May 2019, Satara Rangers noticed a spoor of suspected poachers which they followed," said SANParks.

READ | 3 rhino poachers caught in Kruger National Park jailed after pleading guilty

They first found a high calibre rifle that had been dropped by the fleeing suspects and found Nyathi hiding nearby. 

He was detained and handed over to the South African Police Service for processing.

SANParks said that during the police investigation, it was found that he was wanted in connection with the 2017 incident. Both cases were combined for trial. 

The court found him guilty of 12 of the 14 charges he was facing and sentenced him to 53 years imprisonment.

He will only serve 23 years because some of the sentences will run concurrently in terms of the judgment.

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