The alleged poachers of rhino calf Sabi were in the accused dock as well as policemen and SANPark employees accused of hunting our protected species.
MBOMBELA – The case against the alleged poachers of a rhino calf, Sabi, was transferred to the regional division of the Nelspruit Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday. This was one of four rhino-poaching cases which had been heard in court this week.
- Messrs Thokozane Jabulane Ngwenya, Kenneth Alex Mthombothi, Promise Mandla Lamula, Mthobisi Lenox Ngwenyama and Russel Mokoena appeared in the Nelspruit Magistrate’s Court where their case was transferred.They were arrested shortly after Sabi, a sub-adult rhino, had been shot on August 2014. The calf was brought to Care for Wild Africa after surviving its mother’s poaching in Sabi Sands in 2013. The bullet which killed Sabi’s mother and injured him in 2013, along with the one which killed him last year had been retrieved from his carcass.Both would be used as evidence in the Nelspruit Regional Court, where the accused were due to appear on March 3.
- On Wednesday, the case against three policemen and a former field ranger of the Kruger National Park was postponed to May 13. This would enable constables Arnold Mashele, Morris Sehlabela and Dennis Mkhonto, and Mr Phineas Dinda to provide their attorneys with instructions. Mashele, Sehlabela and Dinda were arrested for suspectedpoaching on May 27 last year. Mkhonto’s case was added to theirs after his first court appearance in June last year. The accused were not granted bail and their attempts to appeal this decision in the Magistrate’s and High Courts, failed.
- The trial date of July 1 was confirmed in the poaching case against three SANParks employees who said they had been assaulted by the police during their arrest on September 21 last year. Mr André Mabunda (43), Mr Shakes Baloyi (46) and Mr Lawrence Baloyi (42) briefly appeared in the Nelspruit Regional Court on Wednesday. They were apprehended after they had been tracked down by the Skukuza SAPS and the special operations team close to where a rhino had been shot in the head. They are charged with hunting a protected species in the Kruger National Park, possession of firerams and ammunition with the intent to commit a crime, unlawful possession of ammunition, conspiracy to commit a crime and the attempted theft of rhino horn.
- The trial of three men who allegedly attempted to poach will start on June 29. Mr Joshe Lopez, Mr Reginald Ubisi and Mr Sergio Mothambiso’s strange behaviour led to their arrest on November 12 last year. Lopez attracted the attention of SANParks officials at the park’s Crocodile Bridge gate when he paid for three entrance permits while travelling alone. When his car was spotted at Onder Sabie, two passengers had appeared by his side. His vehicle was searched and park officials found weapons and ammunition in their possession, which led to their arrest. The accused’s alleged attempts to bribe police officials led to charges of corruption being laid against them, in addition to the illegal possession of weapons and ammunition.