Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Ms Edna Molewa, welcomes sentencing of rhino poachers

01 February 2012

The Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Ms Edna Molewa, today welcomed the Phalaborwa Regional Court’s decision to sentence three rhino poachers to a maximum of 25 years imprisonment on various counts.

The poachers, who are from Mozambique, were sentenced yesterday for illegal hunting of rhinos in the Kruger National Park in 2010. The convicted rhino poachers are Aselmo Baloyi, Jawaki Nkuna and Ismael Baloyi. The accused were arrested at Mooiplaas 18 months ago and one of the accused attempted to escape, but was captured and died in custody in 2011.

The court charges were as indicated below:

  • Illegal hunting of a rhino - 10 years imprisonment with an option of a R100 000 fine
  • Possession of a prohibited  firearm (automatic rifle) - 15 years imprisonment
  • Possession of a firearm (hunting rifle ) – 8 years imprisonment
  • Possession of ammunition – 15 years imprisonment.

Counts 2,3 and 4 will run concurrently, which means that both accused have been sentenced to an effective 25 years.

Minister Molewa believes the court sentence will send a strong message and hopefully act as a deterrent to poachers and would be poachers. It is hoped that this sentence coupled with anti-poaching activities that the government has embarked on with various law enforcement agencies will act as a deterrent to poachers.

Earlier this year, the Minister reiterated government’s commitment to the fight against rhino poaching. .  “I would like to assure you that the government of South Africa views the illegal killing of this national treasure in a very serious light and will continue to prioritise our fight against this crime jointly with our law enforcement agencies.  We will continue to implement the various initiatives highlighted last year, while putting in place added measures to address this matter,” she said.

The court sentence came at a time when government has started stepping up measures to combat the tide of rhino poaching.  The measures include the return of South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to monitor the 350km of national border in Kruger National Park and other country borders and the deployment of conservation specialists at ports through which the internation trade in endangered species can be exported and imported.

The Department and SANParks are also in the process of beefing up patrols in the Kruger National Park by deploying an additional 150 rangers.  There are also ongoing bilateral engagements between South Africa and Mozambique to deal with  the  cross-border law enforcement.

South Africans are also urged to report any illegal rhino activities that they are aware of to 0800 205 005

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Albi Modise
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