This week the Louis Trichard Regional Court sentenced six people involved with rhino poaching to a collective 75 years’ imprisonment.
“Job Tlou, Percy Manengena, Johannes Podile Sematla, Lebala Sematla and Masolo Saul Sematla were handed 15 years imprisonment on the charge of illegal hunting of rhinoceros,” said National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku.
“Albino Fernando Mazuze, a Mozambican national, was sentenced to 10 years for the illegal selling and trading in rhino horn.”
Johannes Sematla, the shooter of the rhino, was also declared unfit to possess a firearm.
In July 2014, the carcass of a white rhino bull was found with both horns removed on the farm Den Staat adjacent to Mapungubwe National Park.
The rhino was the property of SANParks and it had wandered onto Den Staat, where it was poached.
During the autopsy, two bullet points were found in the brain of the animal.
“Investigation into the matter led to the buyer of the rhino horns [Tlou] in Kwa Mahlanga near Pretoria. Further investigation revealed he had previously received and offered rhino horns for sale,” Mfaku said.
A sting was set up and Section 252(A) in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act approval was obtained to conduct a controlled delivery of rhino horns to the suspect.
“During the transaction, Tlou offered the amount of R 80 000 per kg for the two rhino horns to the Environmental Criminal Investigation members.
“He was thereafter arrested and, during a search of his house, an unlicensed 9.3 x 62 mm rifle was found hidden in the roof of his home, 38 rounds of ammunition as well as a scale were found in his possession,” noted Mfaku.
Further investigation led to the arrest of Manengena from Alldays who received the rhino horns from the poachers on the farm Den Staat and who took it to Tlou in Kwa Mahlanga.
“It was revealed that Percy Manangena received R 400 000 for Job Tlou for the rhino horns. Joe Sematla who shot the rhino, as well as his son with the name Forget, who assisted during the incident, was also arrested,” said Mfaku.
A licenced 3006 calibre rifle belonging to Sematla was confiscated. This was the firearm used by Sematla to poach the rhino.