By Khulekani Nene
SITEKI – An off-duty game ranger was shot dead by his colleagues during a shoot-out between poachers and rangers at Mlawula Game Reserve yesterday morning.
The deceased has since been indentified as Skhumbuzo Dlamini, who was reportedly employed as a ranger under the Mlawula Game Reserve anti-poaching team. Police said Dlamini, with two other men, were allegedly poaching inside the game reserve when they were confronted by armed game rangers.
The three were reportedly travelling in a vehicle and were armed with two shotguns.
“The driver of the poachers’ vehicle refused to stop and surrender and a fire fight between the rangers and the two other poachers armed with shotguns ensued.
The result of the very brief encounter was that one of the poachers in the vehicle was shot dead, one was shot in the leg and none of the rangers were hit by the bullets,” said Tal Fineberg, a Manager at Mbuluzi Game Reserve, which falls under Lubombo Conservancy together with Mlawula Game Reserve.
Lubombo Conservancy is a protected conservation area in the north-east of the Lubombo region. Fineberg said the poachers were found with two firearms along with three poached animals; an impala, a grey duiker and a nyala, which has the status of being royal game.
Police Information and Communications Officer Assistant Superintendent Khulani Mamba confirmed that a man was shot dead while allegedly poaching with two others at Mlawula Game Reserve yesterday morning.