The North Gauteng High Court granted an order setting aside a search warrant issued by a Pretoria North magistrate in August last year and ordering the Gauteng nature conservation department to return the springboks to their owner, Jan Venter.
Should they fail to return the springboks, the court gave the department 20 days to issue permits to transport the animals from the Pretoria Zoo to a suitable conservation area.
Venter said he had bought the antelope in February last year when they were about two weeks old, but kept them in a boma and later in a larger closure to adjust.
Venter said he had received a call in May last year from a nature conservation official who threatened him with criminal prosecution because he did not have permits for the antelope. He was told the animals had to be removed to the Dinokeng rehabilitation centre immediately.
Venter went to see the head of Nature Conservation in Pretoria to sort out the dispute, but was told he would never get permits to keep the antelope.
When Venter arrived at court, the case dossier was missing and the charge was withdrawn against him.
He said he had already made arrangements to move the animals to Brits when a large contingent of Green Scorpions arrived on his farm with R5 rifles, darted the animals and removed them.
He alleged this conduct was unlawful because there were no charges against him.