By Nhlanhla Nxele
Conservation agency, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, has laid a complaint with the National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega following the arrest of two anti-rhino poaching game rangers.
Three game rangers from the Anti-Rhino Poaching Unit were spending their Christmas Day trying to protect the animals when they confronted a suspected poacher. The suspect was shot and killed at the Umkhuze Game Reserve in the Isimangaliso Wetlands Park on the province's north coast.
They were arrested and charged with murder by the police.
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife spokesperson Musa Mntambo says, " There was a shootout between Ezemvelo Wildlife Rangers and
suspected poachers. Poachers were coming from the game reserve and as soon as they walked out they met the rangers. Rangers shot one suspected poacher dead - we then informed the police to come and open the case of illegal poaching and when the police came they arrested our members the field rangers."
Police arrested the conservation workers for murder, angering authorities at Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. Two were charged for murder and released on a thousand rand bail each.
Police spokesperson Jay Naicker says the rangers at the scene failed to provide the police with the necessary answers as to why an individual was killed, [sic\.
"Police at Jozini were called to the murder that has occurred at the game reserve in Jozini area; when they got there they found an alleged poacher has been shot and passed away at the scene. The three game rangers that were present were questioned by officer. It is alleged that they suspected the individuals of poaching and had chased him and they could not provide police to the full explanation to why a man was killed. The three were taken in for questioning, two of the game rangers were charged and appeared at Mbumbulu where they appeared at Umbumbulu and released in a thousand rand bail."
Ezemvelo KZN Wild Life says it's concerned and shocked by action of the SAPS. Mntambo says Ezemvelo's acting CEO David Mabunda has already written a formal letter of dissatisfaction and requested an immediate meeting with the national police commissioner,
"We were surprised that the SAPS arrested our field ranger - it came as a shock to us as we don't remember when last something like this has happened but our acting CEO Doctor Mabunda has indicated that they will try to set up a meeting with the commissioner of police to try and see if we can again work together with saps in such situations."
The Eemvelo KZN Wildlife is awaiting the intervention of the national police commissioner after they forwaded their grievience with the police. They say game rangers involved in anti-poaching operations are faced with an increasingly difficult task. About 70 rhino have been killed in KwaZulu-Natal this year.