Rhino poaching syndicate members to hear about bail on Tuesday

FILE PICTURE: Alleged rhino poaching syndicate boss Hugo Ras sits in the back of a Hawks vehicle. Picture: Refilwe Modise

FILE PICTURE: Alleged rhino poaching syndicate boss Hugo Ras sits in the back of a Hawks vehicle. Picture: Refilwe Modise

The wife of alleged rhino poaching kingpin Hugo Ras will only find out tomorrow if she will be granted bail and reunited with her five-year-old child as the bail hearing was postponed to Tuesday.

Trudie Ras is one of four of the accused believed to part of a ruthless syndicate that poached 24 rhino, who applied for bail in the Pretoria Magistrates’ on Monday.

Her brother Abraham Smit, Jacobus Steyn and Willem van Jaarsveld were alongside her.

The applications were postponed due to statements in the state’s possession that had to be made available to the defence teams.

In an affidavit, Trudie Ras said she had no knowledge of her husband’s dealings and needed bail in order to tend to her child. She added that she had only made payments on her husband’s behalf.

The court also heard that Steyn, who is a pilot in Ficksburg, said he flew twice for the alleged kingpin in 2009, didn’t know what cargo he was carrying.

While Smit evoked his right to remain silent the court heard he had several unlicensed firearms, allegedly inherited from his grandfather.

The state is expected to oppose bail for the four accused on Tuesday.

On Monday morning, Hugo Ras kissed his wife goodbye in the dock as his bail hearing was postponed to 8 October.
Hugo Ras, along with warrant officer Willie Oosthuizen, Joseph Wilkinson, MC Scheepers, Mandla Magagula and Ras’ brother Anton were remanded in custody and left the court.

Miranda Friedmann of the Activists for Animals Africa attended the bail hearing, said their presence was to ensure bail was denied to as many of the accused as possible, and Ras in particular.

The ten accused were arrested on 19 September in a countrywide operation. They face a total of 318 charges, including the killing of rhino, the sale of rhino horns, intimidation, money laundering and racketeering.

A conservative estimate of the 84 illegally obtained horns is said to be around R16 million.

The alleged Syndicate’s activities have been described as the ruthless serial killing of Rhino.

 

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