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Arrest of suspected rhino poaching ringleader and police official for involvement in rhino poaching welcomed

21 September 2014

 

The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Mrs Edna Molewa, has welcomed the arrest of a suspected rhino poaching ringleader and nine accomplices by the Directorate of Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks).

The suspects were arrested for their alleged involvement in a number of rhino poaching and related crimes. The arrest by the Hawks was part of a multi-dimensional and intelligence-led operation in four provinces.

The operation was conducted in conjunction with the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, the Department of Home Affairs, SAPS Detectives, Crime intelligence and the Forensic Science Laboratory, the National Prosecuting Authority, the Veterinary Council of South Africa, and Protea Coin Security.

The  alleged ringleader was arrested in the Pretoria North Magistrate's Court on Friday morning while appearing on a separate rhino-poaching related case.  The other suspects were arrested simultaneously in Polokwane in Limpopo, Ficksburg in the Free State, Potchefstroom in the North West and in Montana, Mamelodi and Kameeldrift in Gauteng.  The syndicate mainly operated in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West, Gauteng, and KwaZulu-Natal.

The group is alleged to have contributed to the brutal slaughter and mutilation of 24 rhinos in state and privately owned game reserves. Only two of the 24 rhinos that had been attacked, survived, but they were dehorned after they had been darted. The 34 horns were either stolen or obtained through other devious means.

The killings took place between 2008 and 2012. In total, the syndicate illegally obtained 84 rhino horns and killed 22 rhinos valued at nearly R22 million.

The 10 will appear in the Hatfield Court in Pretoria on Monday, 22 September 2014 on several rhino poaching-related charges like theft, fraud, malicious injury to property, attempting to defeat the ends of justice, racketeering, money laundering,  intimidation,  illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.

The Hawks are commended for their stirling work in securing the arrest of the alleged rhino poaching syndicate ringleader and members.

“The first court appearance on the accused on these charges on World Rhino Day on Monday is significant in that it sends a strong message of the government’s commitment to addressing the scourge of rhino poaching,” said Minister Molewa.

The arrests on Friday bring to 342 the number of people arrested in connection with rhino poaching in South Africa since the start of 2014.

For media inquiries contact:

Albi Modise
Cell: 083 490 2871

Capt Paul Ramaloko, spokesperson for the Hawks
Cell: 079 514 4476 / 082 770 4902 or 
E-mail: Ramalokop@saps.gov.za.