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2022/03/28      |  Written By:  Brigadier S Mohlala   |   Province:  Mpumalanga

Nelspruit: 28 March 2022 - The Provincial Commissioner of the SAPS in Mpumalanga, Lieutenant General Semakaleng Daphney Manamela has appreciated the manner in which the court dealt with poachers recently. The sentiment by the General follows respective sentencing of five (05) poachers by the Skukuza Regional Court, two were sentenced on Thursday, 24 March 2022 whilst the other three received their sentences on Tuesday, 22 March 2022.

The court sentenced Sam Nyagumbi Thobela, aged 50 and Ezekiel Solomon Mafuyeka, aged 27 to an effective 16 years imprisonment after the two were found guilty of hunting rhinos at the Kruger National Park. It is said that on the day in question the two entered Malalane Section of the Kruger National Park on 30 January 2020 with the sole intention of hunting rhinos for purpose of obtaining their horns.

The rangers then noticed some strange tracks in the park which immediately alerted them of intruders. The two accused were traced, with the help of a tracker dog then apprehended where they were found with two rhino horns, as well as one rifle which did not have serial numbers, six cartridges and an axe.

The police at Skukuza were informed and upon arrival the two were arrested and charged for hunting of a rhinoceros, possession of a prohibited firearm, possession of a dangerous weapon, and trespassing hence their sentences on Thursday (24 March 2022).

Meanwhile Simon Salomon Mhlanga, aged 43, Morris Paul Chauke, aged 41 as well as Sam Jack Maluleke, aged 48 were sentenced to an effective 18 years imprisonment by the said court for their share in poaching at Kruger National Park. It is said that on 03 September 2015 the three men who were armed, entered the park at Pretoriuskop Section where they shot and wounded white rhinoceros at Nwatswishaka block.

The field rangers at the park heard some gunshots on the day in question and swiftly responded where they managed to capture the three accused thereby discovering that the intruders were in possession of a6 large calibre firearm as well as ammunition, an axe and some bags. The wounded rhinoceros, which was also chopped with an axe at the back was found closer to the scene where the accused persons were apprehended.

Police at Skukuza were informed about the incident and upon their arrival at the scene, the trio was arrested and charged accordingly. The case docket was investigated by the Stock Theft Unit of the police at Skukuza. These are members who are experts in the field and they worked tirelessly to ensure that justice is served.

In the tour of the investigation, the investigators discovered that Mhlanga and chauke were Mozambican Nationals who were in South Africa illegally hence the two were charged with contravention of the Immigration Act. This was in addition to charges levelled against all three, which include trespassing, cruelty to animals, hunting of rhinoceros in a the park, possession of unlicenced firearm with ammunition, possession of a firearm with intention to commit crime.

The Provincial Commissioner of the SAPS in Mpumalanga, Lieutenant General Semakaleng Daphney Manamela further commended the court for working with speed in finalising the cases involving poaching. "We are also happy with the synergy that exists between the Investigators, the Field Rangers, the Prosecution team and the Judiciary. We are indeed winning the war against crime" said the General.