Award-winning Kruger National Park (KNP) regional ranger Rodney Landela and veterinarian technician of the Animal Health Directorate Kenneth Motshotso have been arrested.
According to the Lowvelder, they were arrested in the KNP on Wednesday for rhino poaching-related offences. Having been detained at Skukuza Police Station on Thursday, both men appeared in the Bushbuckridge Magistrate’s Court. They were to be detained for seven days before being allowed to apply for bail.
Due to the seriousness of the crime, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate was assigned the case. Landela, in KNP’s service for 15 years, had received achievement awards, including an individual achievement award in 2012, from the reserve.
He was highly regarded by the Game Rangers’ Association, of which he is an executive member. He was recently trained to pilot a drone during antipoaching operations and was in charge of the Mopani North Region of the KNP.
SANParks rangers were on normal patrol in the Satara area when they heard three gunshots close to Kingfisherspruit at 1pm on Wednesday. They rushed in the direction of the shots to investigate. As they approached, they saw two men, one in a green ranger uniform and the other one in khaki clothes, running towards a bakkie that was parked nearby. They got into the bakkie and sped off.
The rangers came across the carcass of a white rhino that had been poached just a few minutes earlier. They gave chase and were joined by colleagues and the SANParks chopper. The suspects’ bakkie was eventually cut off at Satara. Landela gave orders to Motshotso to drive away while he stayed behind.
He drove away, but came back after a while. That is when the rangers became suspicious and searched the bakkie. Blood-covered shoes were recovered from the bakkie. Other rangers were sent to the spot where Motshotso had gone with the bakkie.
There, they found a high-calibre hunting rifle and two horns. These were possibly dropped by Motshotso from the bakkie in the veld when he drove away.
– Caxton News Service