South Africa 24.4.2015 03:00 pm

Intention to poach will incur serious consequences

FILE PICTURE: Rhinos are pictured in a holding compund at the Kruger National Park, 02 March 2015, ahead of World Wildlife Day celebrations. Picture: Refilwe Modise

FILE PICTURE: Rhinos are pictured in a holding compund at the Kruger National Park, 02 March 2015, ahead of World Wildlife Day celebrations. Picture: Refilwe Modise

MBOMBELA – The Nelspruit Regional Court has passed another sentence that sends a firm message to poachers: even the intention to poach will lead to serious consequences.

On Wednesday, this meant prison sentences of 15 years each for four men convicted of trespassing into the Kruger National Park and illegally possessing weapons.

Messers Patrick Ngwenya, 28, Sibusiso Mpangane, 26, Thulani Mchunu, 31, and Charles Zitha, 29, were arrested on December 7, 2010. According to field ranger Dalton Mabasa’s previous testimony, they were patrolling the park’s Pretoriuskop area that morning when they saw spoors and heard gunshots.

They received the assistance of section ranger Don English, the SANParks Environmental Crime Investigation and air assistance, and at about 3pm, the team closed in on five suspects, who fired shots at them.

“We had to fire back to save our lives,” Mabasa had declared.

One of the five suspects, Bongi Mliba, was shot dead, and Mchunu was wounded during the crossfire. Medical care was arranged for the wounded suspect, and the four were arrested.

On Wednesday, magistrate Andre Geldenhuys said their common purpose to hunt rhino was clear from the weapons found in their possession – an axe, two rifles and a pistol.

He sentenced all four to five years’ imprisonment for trespassing and 10 years’ imprisonment for the illegal possession of weapons.

– Caxton News Service

 

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