1 minute read
3 Oct 2014
1:02 pm

Rhino poaching syndicate bail application continues

Magistrate Desmond Nair has started his judgement in the bail application of four accused who are part of an alleged rhino poaching syndicate in the Pretoria Magistrates' Court heard on Friday.

FILE PICTURE: South African National Parks environmental crime investigation chief Kobus de Wet explains to media the process of autopsying a rhinocerous. Picture: Amanda Watson

Accused Trudie Ras, her brother Abraham Smit, pilot Bonnie Steyn and Willem van Jaarsveld sat in the dock as Nair recapped the state’s statements and affidavits from the accused.

In a summary, Nair spoke about several alleged poaching incidents committed by members of the syndicate, four traps set up as well as well as over 150 witnesses that will lead evidence in the case, as put by the state.

One such incident apparently took place in 2010 at Rietvlei Game Reserve where two rhino were darted, but only one had both its horns removed. Nair also made mention that the state intends to prove the intricate involvement of members in the syndicate and activities of the syndicate, through evidence led by more than 150 witnesses.

Furthermore the state said four traps to purchase rhino horns were set up, in which members of the syndicate were implicated in.

The ten accused were arrested on 19 September in a country-wide operation. They face a total of 318 charges, including the killing of rhino and selling of horns, intimidation, money laundering and racketeering. 
 
 A conservative estimate of the 84 illegally obtained horns is said to be around R16 million.

The bail application continues.