Re: Rhino Poaching: Arrests, Prosecutions & Sentencing

Tue Sep 06, 2016 6:24 pm

Nyalungu is one of the biggest fishes, an ex-policeman. It is a shocking disgrace how long his trial is taking...5 years! :evil:

Re: Rhino Poaching: Arrests, Prosecutions & Sentencing

Sun Oct 23, 2016 7:49 am

Rhino poachers win leave to appeal 26-year sentence
2016-10-14 20:37

Eric Mashaba, News24 correspondent

Nelspruit - A former South African National Defence Force (SANDF) soldier who was convicted and sentenced to 26 years for poaching rhino in the Kruger National Park has, together with his accomplice, appealed his sentence.

Leonard Bhuti Mashego, 56, from Pienaar Trust outside Mbombela, who was sentenced together with his co-accused Michael Sithole, 53, a herbalist from Clau Clau Trust, requested leave to appeal in the Nelspruit Regional Court on Friday.

"I have requested for leave to appeal against my conviction and sentence. I would request [Legal Aid SA] to assist me in this matter," said Mashego, who was earlier assisted by a private lawyer.

His co-accused, Sithole, told Magistrate Andre Geldenhuys that he had called his family to assist him in getting a private lawyer, but was now requesting legal aid.

"My family has failed to get me the private lawyer due to financial problems," said Sithole.

Geldenhuys said the court would grant them the chance to lodge their appeal.

23 charges

State prosecutor Simon Mamabolo, who represented senior State prosecutor Advocate Isabet Erwee, asked the court to postpone the matter until a further date to enable the accused to secure their defence.

The two were arrested after a shootout involving rangers in the Bristol area of the Kruger Park on September 25, 2010. Mashego was wounded in the shoulder during the incident.

They faced 23 charges, including killing and dehorning six rhino, illegal activities in the game reserve, carrying out a restricted activity involving a threatened species, possession of an illegal firearm and ammunition, and failing to report a stolen firearm.

They were sentenced to 26 years' imprisonment on July 13 after they were found guilty on 13 counts. Mashego's defence, that he went into the park to search for his stray cows, failed to save him from a long prison sentence.

Geldenhuys said, from testimony by rangers, it was established that there was a hole in the fence which Mashego used as an entrance. He also rejected Sithole's defence that he was digging for muthi outside the park and that the rifle found lying next to him was planted by the rangers.

'Well planned' operation

Erwee said the sentences should fit the crimes committed, as the number of rhino killed was on the increase despite efforts to save them.

"The operation was well planned. Firearms and ammunition were organised and accused two wore his SANDF uniform and an army bag was used in carrying the horns," said Erwee. She said it was obvious the two were brutal in the manner that they shot at the animals.

"They fired their rifles multiple times with little regard for what happened to the animals. As a result of the continuous poaching, security and patrols have been increased in the parks in order to hear the shootings from a distance. It is a costly operation," said Erwee.

Geldenhuys confirmed that despite Mashego having a licence for his .303 rifle he faced charges of illegal possession of a firearm relating to the one found on Sithole as they had both acted together with common purpose.

The case was postponed to October 19. ... isapp=true

Re: Rhino Poaching: Arrests, Prosecutions & Sentencing

Thu Oct 27, 2016 7:12 am

K9-unit adds to success of 14 poachers arrested in one week

The KNP’s K9-unit is proving to be a gamechanger in the fight against poaching. Over the past ten months they have had a 90% success rate.
17 hours ago

SKUKUZA – South African National Parks (SANParks), announced the arrest of 14 suspected poachers in the Kruger National Park (KNP) in the past seven days.

The arrests were a team effort by the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), the South African Police Services (SAPS) and SANParks.

Up to date for the month of October 42 rhinos were poached in the KNP. For the same month in 2015 78 rhinos were poached.

The arrests are all related to rhino poaching as all the suspects were found in possession of ammunition, 5 high calibre rifles and other poaching equipment.

The 14 suspects were apprehended in different sections of the KNP.

These successes further confirm the fact that the ongoing implementation of the KNP counter poaching tactics including, dedicated and experienced Rangers on the ground, new technologies and the Special Ranger Airborne response and in particular K9 tracking are paying dividends.

Over the past 10 months the K9 units have successfully tracked and taken down over 90% of the poachers arrested in the KNP.

The arrests were hailed as a success by the Managing Executive in the KNP Glenn Phillips who said “We are incredibly honoured to have such dedicated and committed Rangers and Protection services officials who are committed to operate under extreme environmental conditions to ensure the survival of these prehistoric animals and all other fauna and flora. We want to make it clear to poachers and their handlers that the Kruger is becoming a very dangerous place. Rangers are ready and waiting to put you behind bars. We have a long way to go but we will not lose this fight.” ... -one-week/

Re: Rhino Poaching: Arrests, Prosecutions & Sentencing

Thu Oct 27, 2016 10:27 am

It sounds as if they were arrested before they could do any harm? If so, even a bigger success \O ^Q^ ^Q^

The rhinos poached are still far too many :-(

Re: Rhino Poaching: Arrests, Prosecutions & Sentencing

Thu Oct 27, 2016 11:57 am

Good work! \O

Re: Rhino Poaching: Arrests, Prosecutions & Sentencing

Tue Nov 01, 2016 9:17 pm

Update on case number IRC176/16 – defendant Lingyun Cheng – arrested on the 23rd September 2016 at OR Tambo airport, in possession of three Rhino Horn.
Proceedings started after 10h30 with the state reading the charges. The defendant pleaded guilty to all charges. The defense attorney read the defendants statement into the records and stated the defendant pleaded guilty on his advise.
Unfortunately there was a clamp down on cell phones and all cell phones had to be powered off not just on silent which stopped blow by blow accounts of the case.
The state called two witnesses in support of harsh rather than lenient sentencing. The carcasses of three rhino cows with the horns removed were in close proximity to each other and a young calf was found alive. The three cows had all be shot with a .375 rifle. The calf was taken into care and is currently still alive. There were two poaching s very close to each other but the three horn found in possession of Cheng were positively linked to the three cows. The second crime scene is still an open case. Both scenes are very close to the Swaziland border. Of the six horn only three have been recovered. They were recovered in Cheng's luggage, wrapped in carbon paper, tin foil and finally with gift wrap.Photo evidence was handed to the court of the baggage, boxes and the horn.
There is an uncontrolled border post that can be crossed without a passport which is a major headache for law enforcement of wildlife crime. (I presume any crime)
A presentation was then given going back to CITES, Trade ban and the rise of rhino poaching. The presentation included stats of poached rhinos as well as how it is not just the killed rhino – but the impact the loss of mature, breeding rhino, has on the survival of the species. How the cost of horn increases once the destination is reach.
The different levels from poacher to consumer was explained and the defendant is looked at as a level three on the pyramid.
Very few questions were asked by the defense. He queried the cost and the weight of horn.
In closing the defense lawyer stated his client was aware it was wrong to carry the horn but was unaware of how serious a problem poaching horn was. He stated that not being South African he had no idea of the severity of the problem. The defense then went on to state the rhino had not been slaughtered as they had been shot which is better than being slaughtered. He also stated that Cheng was visiting a friend in Swaziland, who was going to take the horn out himself, but as Cheng was flying out a day Earlier he paid Cheng R20000 to take the horn with him. Cheng had a visor for Swaziland until the 27th but changed it to leave on the 23rd.
He then requested no jail time but rather a heavy fine of which part could be suspended. He said that the fine would be paid by Cheng's friend/syndicate which meant the “more” guilty party ultimately paid the price for the crime. The defendant is divorced with no children but does have a girlfriend. He has no previous record and prison sentences are not always the correct sentence. He also mentioned John Hume having won twice in his case for lifting the local ban on trade in horn. It was mentioned that from day one the defendant wanted to plead guilty and had and is co-operative and is willing to assist the police with information on the other people involved.

The state countered with the fact he was a level three on the pyramid scale and deserves a direct prison sentence. Various cases were put forward in support of this. She also argued the point that whether they were slaughtered or not many animals lovers considered it murder irrespective of how the creature is killed. She pointed out that importing and exporting of horn is an international crime as it is banned by cites and therefore irrespective of the outcome of lifting the local ban the defendant was still guilty as charged as he was carrying horn out of the country when there is an international ban in place. She pushed the point that poaching was out of control and the courts must treat it for the serious crime it is and let people know harsh sentences will be metered out to guilty parties.

Court was adjourned at 1545. Will reconvene at 14H00 tomorrow (2nd November) for sentencing.

Re: Rhino Poaching: Arrests, Prosecutions & Sentencing

Wed Nov 02, 2016 8:17 pm

R800000.00 fine or 6 years imprisonment
My take on the sentencing today. Please let me stress these are purely and simple my personal opinions on the matter.
Firstly I have the utmost respect for Mr Manyati the magistrate at the regional court in Kempton Park. When addressing the court on the facts of the case, one thing became very, very clear - our laws are not harsh enough. He brought up previous cases when the maximum sentence had been given and in each and every case it had been reduced on appeal. The other issue is the transport/mule,courier or whatever you want to call them seem to get a lighter sentence than the poacher. In my opinion it seems to me that the regional courts (and Mr Manyati in particular ) recognize just how serious the rhino crimes are - but the higher courts are not backing them when they hand down justice - resulting in the magistrates not giving the harshest sentence allowable by law as they know full well the sentence will be reduced by higher courts. Must be very soul destroying for the legal people who understand and respect the seriousness of the crime. I am not a legal person - this is my observation of being a very ordinary street joe. I feel that the sentences for the "mules" should be jail sentences without the option of a fine. In some cases they may be a normal everyday person tempted by large sums of money in other cases they may be regulars. If sentences were harsh enough to make these "mules" think twice about accepting (as in this case) R20000 or whatever there entry payment would be it would at least stop a lot of the horn reaching the end consumer. I know and understand this is not a solution but I believe it would go a long way in making the seller, poacher back off a bit. Fines are all well and good but are no deterrent when you are dealing in the high value of the product. The ultimate solution would be able to cut the head off the snake - but we all know that is purely a pipe dream (currently). In a perfect world there would be no demand - but that is as likely to happen as tripping over the Easter Bunny so the next step is to reduce demand through education and where horn is illegal have harsh sentences for the end consumer - if caught and convicted

Re: Rhino Poaching: Arrests, Prosecutions & Sentencing

Wed Nov 02, 2016 8:30 pm

Thanks for this, Moggie! :ty:

Re: Rhino Poaching: Arrests, Prosecutions & Sentencing

Wed Nov 02, 2016 9:02 pm

The laws are always far behind, especially when it come to new kinds of crimes 0*\

Re: Rhino Poaching: Arrests, Prosecutions & Sentencing

Thu Nov 03, 2016 9:41 am

Thanks MD. \O