Two of the three suspects who were arrested for rhino poaching and other related crimes were sentenced to 34 years imprisonment whilst the third suspect was sentenced to 39 years imprisonment in Skukuza Region Court yesterday Tuesday 25 August 2023.
The suspects were arrested inside the Kruger National Park around the Malelane area on 23 November 2019.
According to the report, the field ranger who was on duty spotted a suspicious-looking white Hyundai H1 with two visible occupants.
He decided to stop it to conduct a spot check. He requested the permit which was produced and seemed to be in order as it was bearing the names of the two visible occupants.
Whilst still speaking to the driver, he noticed that there were other two people lying flat on the floor behind the back seats.
The field ranger requested the driver to switch off the engine and hand the car keys to him.
He then instructed the driver to alight and opened the rear door to search it.
The field ranger then opened the sliding door and unexpectedly found the fourth passenger who was lying on the vehicle floor with the firearm pointed at the door.
He was also instructed to alight from vehicle and a search began whereby five rhino horns, one hunting rifle with a silencer, fourteen live rounds, two knives and five mobile phones were found in the vehicle.
The five suspects made several court appearances and later all were granted bail.
Two of the five suspects did not return to court only three attended until the matter was finalized yesterday.
Zwelithini Mathebula (37) and Lucky Mhlongo (39) were sentenced to 34 years imprisonment each for killing endangered species, possession of an unlicensed firearm, possession of ammunition, conspiracy to commit a crime and possession of dangerous weapons.
Teddy Dlamini (37) was sentenced to 39 years imprisonment for all the above-mentioned cases including the pointing of a firearm.
The Provincial Commissioner of the SAPS in Mpumalanga, Lieutenant General Semakaleng Daphney Manamela commended the dedicated and brave field ranger, investigation team, judiciary as well as prosecuting officials for the successful prosecution.