By Kevin Heath
A rhino poacher has been convicted of the murder of his colleague who was shot and killed by rangers. A South African court has found a poacher guilty of murder of one of his colleagues even though it was a wildlife ranger that shot and killed him. The decision is being held as ground-breaking and a new legal weapon to be used against rhino poachers.
The convicted murderer, Wawito Mawala, was said to be held responsible for the death because he must have foreseen the possibility of conflict with rangers when he and three other arranged to go rhino poaching in the Ndumo Game Reserve. Ingwavuma Regional Court magistrate, MA Khumalo recorded that Mawala of Mozambique did not submit any argument as to why he should not have been charged with his accomplice’s murder.
Mawala and his gang were pursuing a white rhino at the game reserve when they were confronted by two wildlife rangers. One of the rangers ordered one of the gang members, Mazivele, to lower his gun. When Mazivele refused and instead turned and pointed the rifle at the rangers he was shot and killed.
Rhino poaching is our worst nightmare. I am very happy about this conviction. We wish for more of these groundbreaking judgments to help us in our fight against rhino poaching. The gang escaped but Mawala was captured later and bought to trial. Mawala had pleaded not guilty to all the charges he faced and said he had been forced to sign a confession. State advocate, Yuri Gangai, argued that the gang had to have seen that their poaching activities could have led to the death of another person but decided to carry on with their plan anyhow.
Mawala was also convicted of hunting specially protected species and trespassing. More....