Three suspected poachers have escaped from police custody after being arrested, along with a South African National Parks (SANParks) employee for allegedly becoming involved in rhino poaching activities.
In a statement Tuesday, SANParks said the armed guard for technical services in the Kruger National Park (KNP) was arrested on Saturday afternoon along with the three other suspects who have subsequently managed to escape from custody.
SANParks said the arrests came after a SANParks Protection Services’ security guard, deployed at the Paul Kruger gate, noticed four suspicious persons entering the park in a vehicle.
The security guard notified South African Police Service (SAPS) officials who were also deployed at the Gate at the time and the four suspects were then arrested and taken into custody.
“Heavy calibre rifle, ammunition and poaching related equipment were recovered. Unfortunately, three of the suspects managed to escape from police custody whilst being transported and are currently still at large,” SANParks said.
The remaining suspect has appeared in court and was identified as Absalom Manyike who had been stationed at Satara and has been employed by SANParks since 2014. He will undergo the organisation’s internal disciplinary process in due course.
Managing executive of the Kruger National Park, Glenn Phillips commended the Protection Services for being vigilant but was disappointed that some of the suspects managed to escape from police custody.
“We are glad that we have removed a betrayer from our ranks and will wait for justice to take its course. This should serve as a warning to all staff members who are assisting criminals; we will come after you and the consequence is that you will lose your job and go to jail for a long period,” said Phillips.
Investigations are still on-going and all attempts are being made to arrest the three escaped suspects.