A joint operation by Durban Organised Crime Unit, Special Task Force and Nyathi Anti-Poaching Unit yielded results in the fight against rhino poaching when they arrested three alleged rhino poachers at Phinda Game reserve. The fourth suspect died during the shoot-out between the suspects and the police. A .458 caliber pistol and a hunting rifle fitted with a silencer were found in possession of the suspects.
On Tuesday, 21 May 2013 at 15:10 the members received information about the suspects who were on their way to hunt rhinos at Phinda Game reserve near Hluhluwe in the northern part of Kwazulu-Natal. The members followed up information and they saw four suspects armed with firearms inside Phinda Game reserve. When the members approached them, it is alleged that the suspects started to shoot towards the members and the members returned fire fatally wounding one suspect. The second suspect was wounded and was taken to hospital under police guard. The remaining two suspects were arrested and two firearms with ammunition were found in their possession. An axe suspected to be used by the suspects during rhino poaching was also found in their possession. The recovered firearms will be sent to ballistic tests to establish if they were used in any rhino poaching in the country.
They were charged with possession of unlicensed firearm and ammunition, attempted murder, attempting to hunt rhinos and trespass. Two suspects, Siphesihle Nthlengethwa (23) and Mandla Zulu (35) appeared in the Hluhluwe Magistrate’s Court yesterday, 23 May 2013 and the case was remanded until 30 May 2013 for bail application. The wounded suspects (32) are still in hospital and wants he is discharged, he will also face similar charges as his co-accused.