Alex Mitchley
1 minute read
3 Oct 2014
1:33 pm

Bail denied for alleged rhino poachers

Alex Mitchley

Bail has been denied to four of the accused that form part of an alleged rhino poaching syndicate facing 318 charges.

FILE PICTURE: 33 rhino horns confiscated in a bust. Some were taken from adult rhinos while others are believed to have been taken from juveniles. Picture supplied.

On Friday, magistrate Desmond Nair concluded his judgement in the Pretoria Magistrates’ Court with Trudie Ras, her brother Abraham Smit, Bonnie Steyn and Willem van Jaarsveld standing in the dock.

Nair said bail was being denied on the basis that the state has a very strong case against the accused, there are flight risks, as well as possible interference with witnesses.

Nair said strong public opinion played a secondary role denying bail.

As court adjourned, some of the accused spoke to their legal representatives before turning to their families.

Steyn’s wife appeared emotional as she repeatedly hugged her husband while Ras showed little emotion as she hugged her family members.

All of the accused will appear in court again October 8.

The ten accused were arrested on 19 September in a country-wide operation and face a number of charges, including the killing of rhino and selling their horns, intimidation, money laundering and racketeering.

It is alleged that they poached 24 rhino, obtaining over 84 horns through poaching and theft. A conservative estimate of the horns is said to be around R16 million.