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2023/01/19      |  Written By:  Brigadier S Mohlala   |   Province:  Mpumalanga

Nelspruit: 18 January 2023 - The Provincial Commissioner of the SAPS in Mpumalanga, Lieutenant General Semakaleng Daphney Manamela has gladly welcomed the hefty sentences handed down by the Skukuza Regional Court to three poachers who are Mozambican Nationals, Lowrene Makamu (28), George Muyanga (50) and Nuru Burros (24). The poachers were sentenced yesterday, Tuesday 17 January 2023.

The court sentenced the trio after overwhelming evidence was presented by the state against them in court. Their sentence stems from an incident that occurred on 01 July 2022 at Crocodile bridge in the Kruger National Park. It is said that field rangers received a report from tourists about sounds of gunshots that were heard on the North of Afsaal picnic spot. 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 on the information until fresh rhino carcasses as well as fresh human footprints were found. The rangers on the helicopter spotted three suspects and called for back-up from a second helicopter. Both helicopters landed few metres from the suspects and cornered the three who were found in possession of a (,375) hunting rifle, 1 silencer, 6 fresh rhino horns (3 front and 3 rear horns) and 3x large hunting knives. Members from Skukuza SAPS were informed about the incident and upon arrival all three suspects were arrested and charged accordingly.

They were then trialed and convicted hence their sentence as follows:

For (count 1) trespassing in Kruger National Park, the three were sentenced to 2 years imprisonment and for (count 2) contravention of the Immigration Act they were all sentenced to one year imprisonment. For (count 3) Possession of prohibited firearm, they were sent to spend 5 years behind bars. On (count 4) Conspiracy, they were sentenced to 4 years imprisonment and for (count 5) illegal hunting and killing of a black rhino, they were all punished with 10 years imprisonment each. Meanwhile for (count 6) illegal and killing of white rhino, they were each sentenced to 5 years imprisonment. On (count 7) illegal hunting and killing of white rhino, they each got a punishment of 5 years imprisonment whilst on (count 8) possession of ammunitions, the three were given 2 year imprisonment each. For (count 9) possession of dangerous weapon, the three men were punished with one year imprisonment.

The court ordered that the sentences on count 1, 2 and 5 run concurrently for accused number 1&3 (Makamu and Burros) because they were first offenders and count 3 and 8 will run concurrently. They will both spend effective 25 year in prison whilst for accused number 2 (Muyanga), the court regarded him as a repeated offend and he will spend effective 33 years in prison. They were all declared unfit to possess a firearm.

The Provincial Commissioner of the SAPS in Mpumalanga, Lieutenant General Semakaleng Daphney Manamela has further thanked the Field Rangers from SANPARKS, the Investigation team, the Prosecution team and the Judiciary which led to the well-deserved sentenced imposed upon the rhino poachers. " We hope that the sentence will serve as a deterrence to others who might consider emulating the actions of the three accused" said the General.