Two alleged rhino poachers caught red-handed with rhino horns and hunting rifle
Two suspects, Sergio Mathebula and July Sihlangu both aged 32 were nabbed with Rhino horns at the Kruger National Park Wednesday 21 September 2022.
The two alleged Rhino poachers made a brief appearance at Skukuza Regional Court on Thursday 22 September 2022. They were remanded in custody and their case was postponed to Wednesday, 28 September 2022 for a formal bail application.
The duo were caught red handed with a pair of Rhino horns, hunting rifle with six live ammunition, an axe, three mobile phones, two black bags and food.
According to information, one of the Field Ranger’s Manager at the Park received information about some alleged individuals who illegally entered the Park. Other law enforcement agencies were mobilised to assist in tracing the alleged poachers who seem to have entered the Park through Malelane Section. A helicopter from Mission Area Manager was dispatched in order to help track these individuals. The said helicopter assisted a great deal as it enabled the crew members to spot two suspects. This information was shared with other law enforcement agencies on the ground. It was not long before the two were found hiding behind tall grass where they were cornered.
The police arrested and charged the two men for possession of unlicensed firearm with ammunition as well as for illegal possession of rhinoceros horns. Preliminary investigation has revealed that the two men from Mozambique have entered the Republic of South Africa without documentation thus they were also charged for contravening the country’s immigration act.
At this stage police cannot rule out the possibility of adding more charges against the two suspects or link them to other crimes committed elsewhere as the investigation continues.
The Provincial Commissioner of the SAPS in Mpumalanga, Lieutenant General Semakaleng Daphney Manamela has welcomed the arrest of the suspects. “This should send a clear message to others who might consider to cause injuries to the country’s pride in our National Parks. We previously indicated that a situation where people can just illegally enter the Park to poach will never be tolerated. The law will have to take its course against the suspects and we trust that the team of investigators working with the Prosecution team will do their best to ensure that perpetrators are prosecuted without fear or favour” said the General.