'Overwhelming evidence' leads to hefty sentences for Kruger National Park rhino poachers

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From left: Nuru Burros, Lowrene Makamu and George Muyanga were sentenced in the Skukuza Regional Court.
From left: Nuru Burros, Lowrene Makamu and George Muyanga were sentenced in the Skukuza Regional Court.
PHOTO: Supplied/Mpumalanga SAPS
  • Three convicted rhino poachers have been jailed.
  • The men were caught in the Kruger National Park in July last year in possession of six rhino horns.
  • Two of the men were sentenced to 25 years behind bars, and a third was sentenced to 33 years.

Three men convicted of rhino poaching-related charges have been handed hefty sentences in the Skukuza Regional Court.

Lowrene Makamu, 28; George Muyanga, 50; and Nuru Burros, 24, were sentenced on Tuesday in connection with an incident that occurred at Crocodile Bridge in the Kruger National Park in July last year.

According to police spokesperson, Brigadier Selvy Mohlala, tourists reported to field rangers that gunshots could be heard near the Afsaal Picnic Site at the park.

"The section ranger then activated his team with the help of a helicopter. A tracker dog was also brought in to assist in tracing the suspects. The team followed up on the information until fresh rhino carcasses, as well as fresh human footprints were found," Mohlala said.

READ | Two men accused of rhino poaching at Kruger National Park

"The rangers in the helicopter spotted three suspects and called for backup from a second helicopter. Both helicopters landed a few metres from the suspects and cornered the three."

The men were found in possession of a hunting rifle, silencer and six fresh rhino horns. They were also carrying three large hunting knives, Mohlala added.

Among the charges they were convicted of were trespassing, killing a rhino, and possession of a firearm and ammunition.

"The court sentenced the trio after overwhelming evidence was presented by the State against them in court," Mohlala said.

Makamu and Burros will serve an effective 25 years behind bars. Muyanga, who the court considered to be a repeat offender, was jailed for 33 years.

Provincial police commissioner, Lieutenant General Semakaleng Daphney Manamela, said: "We hope that the sentence will serve as a deterrence to others who might consider emulating the actions of the three accused."

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