Breakthrough in wildlife poaching offences
On 18 October the Skukuza Regional Court sentenced Carlos Sithole (38) to 20 years direct imprisonment after he was convicted for trespassing at Kruger National Park, possession of an unlicensed firearm, possession of a firearm with intent to commit a crime, pointing of a firearm and possession of a prohibited firearm with no serial number.
The court heard that in 2015 the rangers apprehended Sithole and his two accomplices. Sithole pointed a firearm at the rangers. The rangers shot at him in self-defence. His accomplices escaped and Sithole was arrested.
During trial Sithole denied his involvement and told the court that he was picking herbs as he was studying to be a traditional healer. Advocate Ansie Venter led evidence of two rangers who arrested Sithole and that of a ballistic expert. The state further led evidence of a San Parks Senior Investigator, Freek Roussouw, who attended the crime scene as well as evidence of other experts. Sithole was found guilty as charged.
In aggravation of the sentence, Advocate Venter addressed the court on the plight of rhinos, the immense strain on rangers, the detrimental effect on the economy and the brutality of killing of rhinos.
Sentencing Sithole, the Magistrate, BM Lesufi said that there is a national and international outcry against poaching. The accused showed no remorse for his actions as he was alleging that he was framed, although the evidence proved that he was poaching. Sithole was sentenced to 20 years direct imprisonment.
The NPA is satisfied with the sentence as it sends out a strong message to the society that any harm caused to wildlife will be dealt with harshly.
Another lengthy imprisonment term for Skukuza poacher
The Mhala Regional Court recently sentenced Alfred Mkhonto to 18 years direct imprisonment after he pleaded guilty of trespassing at Kruger National Park, possession of an unlicensed firearm, possession of a firearm with intent to commit a crime and possession of unlicensed ammunition. Mkhonto was also charged for being in South Africa illegally.
The evidence reveals that in 2017 Mkhonto and his two accomplices were found walking between Skukuza and Pretoriuskop when he was apprehended by the rangers. One of his accomplices pointed a firearm at the rangers. The rangers fired first and killed both poachers. Mkhonto was shot in the leg and was arrested.
At first, he denied the allegations levelled against him and told the court that he was taking a short cut from Mozambique to South Africa. He later pleaded guilty. In his guilty plea, he testified that he was recruited from Mozambique and stayed in the house of one of the deceased accomplices in South Africa.
Arguing for a harsh sentence, Advocate Ansie Venter addressed the court that poaching is prevalent. She said that this type of crime was planned and it puts the lives of the rangers in danger. “The accused had a job in Mozambique but came to South Africa illegally to poach out of greed. The only reason the accused did not kill a rhino that night was due to the intelligence the rangers had received.” The presiding officer, Magistrate Lesufi, considered all the relevant factors and sentenced Mkhonto to 18 years direct imprisonment. Mkhonto was declared unfit to possess a firearm.
He said: “Wildlife poaching has grave consequences for targeted species and their habitats. Besides, it has clear environmental implications, which illustrate how our environment is connected to our well-being and economy, as this illegal activity negatively affects ecosystems and the prosperity of the local community.”
The NPA welcomes the sentence.
D812 Road claims three lives
Three people have been killed on D812 Road between Rockysdrift and Kabokweni during a head on collision between a light delivery vehicle (LDV) and a sedan. The crash occurred on Saturday, 26 October, just before 18h00.
Three of the deceased included the driver of the sedan and his two passengers. They are all males. They died at the scene.
The driver of the bakkie sustained serious injuries and is received treatment at the Kiaat Private Hospital in Mbombela.
The cause of this collision remains unknown and it will be investigated by the police.