National Police Commissioner General Riah Phiyega has welcomed the sentencing of a rhino poacher to a total of 77 years in prison.
The Nelspruit Regional Court, on Tuesday, sentenced Mandla Chauke to 15 years for murder, 10 years for each of the three counts of illegally hunting rhino, eight years for the theft of rhino horn, 15 years for illegally possessing firearms, seven years for the illegal possession of ammunition, as well as two years for trespassing in the Kruger National Park.
Chauke and two accomplices, who entered the Kruger National Park illegally on 23 April 2011, were armed with an unlicensed 9mm pistol, as well as a hunting rifle. They shot three rhino, killing the adult bull and badly wounding the cow and a calf in the process.
Their gunshots attracted the attention of rangers who were on patrol. A gunfight ensued between the rangers and the poachers and one suspect disappeared into the park and was never apprehended. Samson Elias Msimango was fatally wounded and Chauke arrested.
Among the items recovered from Chauke were rhino horn, as well as firearms and ammunition.
Phiyega thanked the Skukuza Detective Services for their sterling work that led to the successful conviction and sentencing of Chauke, who had pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
She warned poachers that the South African Police Service will leave no stone unturned in the fight against rhino poachers and poaching.
Acting Chief Executive Officer of SANParks, Abe Sibiya, also commended the courts for imposing such a lengthy jail term.
“This is a huge triumph for the rhino and we warmly welcome this reward as it will provide the much needed boost to the anti-poaching teams who endure harsh conditions for the protection of our parks.”
The Kruger National Park has lost 370 animals to poaching since January this year and 62 people were arrested in connection with some of the cases.
Source : SAnews.gov.za