Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa has commended the police for the arrest of five alleged rhino poachers at the Rietvlei Nature Reserve in Tshwane earlier this week.
The swift action by the police and the Hawks on Monday came as the number of rhino poached for their horn since January 2013 increased to 725.
The arrest brings the total number of alleged poachers arrested to 228. Three alleged couriers are on trial on charges related to the smuggling of rhino horn.
According to the Environmental Affairs Department, the Hawks special investigations unit received a tip-off and partnered with the Pretoria flying squad and K9 unit in arresting the five men, aged between 22 and 52. They were allegedly en route to poach the rhino in the reserve. Two hunting rifles, a 9mm pistol and ammunition were recovered.
The re-arrest of the 32-year-old man out on bail for rhino poaching in the Potchefstroom district earlier this year was particularly heartening, the minister said.
“The arrests of the five men, who had attempted to flee on foot along the Delmas Road bordering the nature reserve when police forced their vehicles off the road, is a further indication of the commitment by all security forces in South Africa to deal effectively with the scourge of wildlife crime.”
Rhino in the reserve were dehorned for a second time in September 2013. The rhino were dehorned in 2010 after two rhino were poached in the nature reserve.
An appeal has been made to all South Africans to report incidents of poaching and tip-offs to the anonymous tip-off lines 0800 205 005, 08600 10111 or CrimeLine on 32211.