Alleged illicit goods found in the home of Kruger National Park security official in Mpumalanga, Prince Mashele, may be indicative of investigators making their way up the poachers’ pyramid, Lowvelder reports.
This opinion was aired by a trusted source on Monday. His suspicion was not confirmed by a police spokesperson, who labelled it “mere speculation”.
Mashele is a police reservist and the head of security at Phabeni and Numbi gates. On Wednesday, police raided his temporary Skukuza home.
What they found could have easily raised the suspicion that Mashele may be affiliated to a rhino-poaching kingpin, presumably as a supplier. A blue light and more than 30 rounds of ammunition and magazines for R5, R1 and .375 rifles, were lined up as potential exhibits. Handcuffs and torches were placed alongside them. Photos taken of the scene show at least nine uniforms of police officials and Kruger National Park rangers.
“It seems that he is supplying a certain poaching syndicate,” said a trusted source.
Another source, who deals with rhino-poaching investigations, explained how this conclusion may have been reached.
“The ranks of rhino poaching can be illustrated with a five-level pyramid,” he said.
“On level one is the hunter. Number two can be called the handler. He provides the hunter with resources, like weapons and ammunition,” he said.
“According to the investigator, number one hunts the rhino and saws off its horns. He hands them over to number two in exchange for payment. From there, the horns make their way to number three, who would typically live in the city. Number four then receives the horns and ensures that they end up with number five, the end-buyer overseas,” he said.
Anyone involved from level two upwards is typically called a syndicate member.
“A case of possession of suspected stolen property and the illegal possession of ammunition was opened at Skukuza Police Station,” confirmed Skukuza police spokesperson Warrant Officer Willie Broodryk.
From Skukuza, police escorted Mashele to his permanent residence at Athol near the Manyeleti game reserve as Manyeleti falls within the jurisdiction of Mhala Magistrates’ Court and a separate second case was opened. Again, charges of possessing suspected stolen property and the illegal possession of ammunition were considered.
When asked about the outcome of this case, Broodryk said it was never enrolled.
After a brief court appearance in Skukuza Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, Mashele’s case was transferred to Bushbuckridge Magistrate’s Court, where Skukuza cases are heard on Thursdays. He was granted bail of R2 000. The case was postponed to September 13.
When asked whether the accused was linked to any incidents of rhino poaching, provincial police spokesperson Sergeant Gerald Sedibe said this was not the case.
“Investigations are still ongoing. Any reports to that effect amount to mere speculation,” concluded Broodryk.
– Caxton News Service