South Africa 8.10.2014 03:00 pm

Sick rhino case accused will seek bail

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

Alleged rhino poaching kingpin Hugo Ras’ brother Anton will be applying for bail next week as he awaits medical results and consultation with a medical specialist.

Anton’s legal representative said he was very ill and they were just awaiting medical results before going ahead with the bail application.

The Pretoria Magistrates’ Court heard on Wednesday that Hugo, his suspected right hand man, Warrant Officer Willie Oosthuizen, Mandla Magagula, and MC Scheepers have yet to apply for bail and may do so when they appear again in November.

During court proceedings, Ras held his wife’s hand and some of the suspects in the dock appeared to be in more of a jovial mood as they laughed at a remark made by a legal representative.

Last week, Hugo’s wife Trudie, her brother Abraham Smit, Bonnie Steyn and Willem van Jaarsveld were denied bail after Magistrate Desmond Nair said the state had “massive evidence”, the suspects may interfere with witnesses, adding that the suspects could be flight risks.

Syndicate suspect Joseph Wilkinson will appear before the Palm Ridge Magistrates’ Court on Thursday to apply for leave to appeal.

Wilkinson had previously filed two urgent bail applications before the Pretoria High Court, the second for bail on new facts. Both applications were heard and dismissed.

The alleged syndicate’s activities, described as the ruthless serial killing of rhino by Hawks spokesperson Paul Ramaloko, gave rise a total of 318 charges including poaching of rhino, racketeering, money laundering and selling of rhino horn.

The state has said it has over 150 witnesses who will lead evidence that the group can be linked to a total of 84 rhino horns were poached and stolen as well as proving links to international trafficking markets including Vietnam and China.

 

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