Anti-poaching arrests and trials

880

Anti-poaching operations in the Kruger National Pak netted 162 people in connection with suspected rhino poaching in the first nine months of this year.

According to the national Department of Environmental Affairs, 145 weapons were seized in “rhino-related” incidents in and outside the iconic game reserve with 83 individual rhino horns confiscated.

Additionally 13 suspected wildlife traffickers were arrested by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations (DCPI), better known as the Hawks. “These traffickers were en route to China, Hong Kong and Vietnam at the time of their arrests,” the department said.

The department said Operation Rhino 9, a follow-up to previous targeted anti-poaching operations, was “progressing well” from mission area joint operations centres in Mpumalanga (Acornhoek), Limpopo (Phalaborwa) and KwaZulu-Natal (Hluhluwe). Four hundred suspects have been arrested on charges including rhino poaching to date this year.

The department said it was “concerning” that SANParks personnel have been arrested for offences related to rhino poaching.
“Since January four officials have been arrested by SANParks enforcement staff in Kruger for poaching related offences. This includes members of the SA Police Service and the SA National Defence Force.
“Since SANParks introduced integrity management to support ongoing anti-poaching efforts, a number of officials have been dismissed following disciplinary processes. A number of them also faced criminal charges,” the department’s Albi Modise said in a statement.

There are currently 530 rhino poaching related cases on the national court roll involving 750 accused and 1 738 charges. Close to 300 cases are trial ready.

Seventy cases, involving 163 accused, were finalised between January and the end of August. Guilty verdicts were returned in 93% of them with 288 years of prison time handed down.