Four Kruger National Park employees accused of being part of a rhino poaching ring were denied bail by the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Thursday. Judge Andre Louw dismissed the appeal by Duncan Mnisi, Tiyene Mabunda, Charles Mabunda and Doctor Mgwenyama against a previous decision by the White River Magistrate's Court to deny them bail.
Louw found that it would not be in the interest of justice to release them.
He said a petition with more than 1 000 signatures handed to the court in opposition of bail showed the extent of the public's outrage about rhino poaching.
The four were charged with malicious damage to property, theft and the illegal possession of an R1 rifle and ammunition, but the State said more charges were being investigated.
The charges relate to the illegal hunting of two white rhino bulls in the Pretoriuskop area of the Kruger National Park in February.
The four were arrested after tourists discovered the dehorned carcasses.
Mnisi and the two Mabundas were employed as tour and field guides, or rangers, while Mgwenyama worked as a traffic official in the park.
All four were suspended without pay.
Louw said the State had a strong case against the men, who faced long terms of imprisonment if they were convicted.
He said it could not be excluded that State witnesses, including gate guards, could be intimidated if the men were released on bail. More....