Both the SA Police Service and the national Department of Environmental Affairs welcomed the “hefty sentences” handed down to three men found guilty of rhino poaching.
Jabulani Ndlovu (40), Forget Ndlovu (37) and Sikhumbuzo Ndlovu (38), collectively known as the Ndlovu Gang, were each sentenced to 25 years in jail for 13 poaching incidents which saw 22 rhino killed in the Eastern Cape over a five year period.
They were sentenced in the Grahamstown High Court on Friday. All three were found guilty on 55 separate counts with the shortest sentence five years and the longest 15. The sentences will run concurrently, the court ruled, which will see all serve an effective 25 year term.
According to an Eastern Cape SA Police Service statement the three were arrested at Makana Resort, Grahamstown (now Makhanda) in June 2016 as part of the provincial Operation Full Moon, focussed on rhino poaching. The suspects were identified as a group and linked to poaching a rhino at Buckland’s Private Game Reserve. The rhino was last seen alive earlier the same month. It is suspected the rhino was darted before it was killed and its horn hacked off. At the time of their arrest the suspects could be linked to at least 10 other rhino poaching incidents in Eastern Cape as well as Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal.
Eastern Cape Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant General Liziwe Ntshinga, said those under her command would continue to work “toward breaking the backbone” of rhino poaching in the coastal province.
“The sentence is a good outcome of SAPSs unwavering commitment in the fight against wildlife crime, much of it linked to organised crime,” she said.
Environmental Affairs spokesman Albi Modise said the lengthy sentences were another indication the integrated strategic management approach to wildlife crime was working. This is a collaborative approach between the departments of Environmental Affairs, Justice, Police and the national defence force, among others that is continuously reviewed and updated to meet changing needs.
“It is delivering the required results,” he said.