Fri Jul 13, 2012 7:41 am
Published: 2012/07/12 09:44:46 PM
Pretoria - Four Kruger National Park employees accused of being part of a rhino poaching ring were denied bail by the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Thursday.
Judge Andre Louw dismissed the appeal by Duncan Mnisi, Tiyene Mabunda, Charles Mabunda and Doctor Mgwenyama against a previous decision by the White River Magistrate's Court to deny them bail.
Louw found that it would not be in the interest of justice to release them.
He said a petition with more than 1 000 signatures handed to the court in opposition of bail showed the extent of the public's outrage about rhino poaching.
The four were charged with malicious damage to property, theft and the illegal possession of an R1 rifle and ammunition, but the State said more charges were being investigated.
The charges relate to the illegal hunting of two white rhino bulls in the Pretoriuskop area of the Kruger National Park in February.
The four were arrested after tourists discovered the dehorned carcasses.
Mnisi and the two Mabundas were employed as tour and field guides, or rangers, while Mgwenyama worked as a traffic official in the park.
All four were suspended without pay.
Louw said the State had a strong case against the men, who faced long terms of imprisonment if they were convicted.
He said it could not be excluded that State witnesses, including gate guards, could be intimidated if the men were released on bail.
The crime had engendered a feeling of shock, and the public's trust in the justice system had to be taken into account.
Senior SA National Parks investigator Frik Rossouw said in an affidavit that Mnisi and the Mabundas were all implicated in the crime by their warning statements, which also implicated Mgwenyama.
An ammunition box, which was stained with blood which had been positively linked to that of a male white rhino, was found in Mgwenyama's private vehicle.
Mnisi was found in possession of R30 000 in cash.
They four did not act alone, but were involved with several other syndicate members, Rossouw said.
He said the men had killed the rhino for financial and personal gain rather than subsistence, as no meat had been cut from the carcasses.
Mon Jul 16, 2012 12:37 am
Mon Jul 16, 2012 12:39 am
Sprocky wrote:He said a petition with more than 1 000 signatures handed to the court in opposition of bail showed the extent of the public's outrage about rhino poaching.
Good on those who took the minute to sign the petition.
Mon Jul 16, 2012 2:54 am
I'm glad the court did the right thing - but this doesn't mean they will be convicted. Also I think these are the low men on the totem pole. Wish they could charge the 'big guns' and give them 100 years in prison. However, it IS a start and hopefully will be a warning to any other guards that think they can make a fast/extra rand.
Tue Jul 17, 2012 6:38 pm
As said on the poaching thread, a REALLY big local operator and ex-cop, "Big Joe" Nyalungu, was also denied bail!
Wed Jul 18, 2012 6:01 am
GOOOOOD let him rot in jail
Mon Oct 15, 2012 2:55 pm
Charles Mabunda was such an excellent guide (I did a morning drive with him from Satara a couple of years ago)and it really hurts me to know that he is now sitting in jail. I fully agree with the denial of bail though.
Tue Oct 16, 2012 8:14 am
Mon Feb 04, 2013 4:56 pm
The trial of the SANParks Four was supposed to commence yesterday, but court proceedings took an unexpected turn when they were released on bail instead, after having been in custody for almost a year.The state is still waiting for a number of outstanding affidavits and the magistrate, Mr Willie Wilken, ruled that the delay was unfair towards the accused. He consequently granted Messrs Duncan Mnisi (field guide), Tiyene Mabunda (field ranger), Charles Mabunda (field guide) and Doctor Mgwenyama (traffic official) bail of R20 000 each.They were arrested on February 28 last year after they had apparently poached two rhino at Nape Boulders Loop near Pretoriuskop in the Kruger National Park (KNP) the night before.They were initially denied bail in April 2012 and neither was granted an application at the High Court two months later. Last month, a bail application based on new facts was also dismissed.Adv Hugo van der Westhuizen appeared on behalf of Mnisi, Charles and Mgwenyama. He argued that the state was not ready for trial as it had been indicated to him that at least 14 affidavits were still outstanding. "I was informed on October 22 that the state was ready to proceed with the trial. Four months later, I was told that there were still affidavits that needed to be obtained," he said."The accused have minor children yearning for their fathers and the four have been subjected to the trauma of having been in custody for almost a year."Senior state advocate, Ms Petra van Basten, stressed that the National Prosecution Authority did everything in its power to prepare for trial.The investigating officer, WO TK Mabua, was involved in an accident in September last year and the investigation came to a halt. Van Basten met with high-ranking police officials in November, requesting a new officer. He was only appointed last month.Lt Miller Mulapo confirmed in court that he had only received the docket two weeks ago. Wilken granted a postponement so that the state "could get its house in order".He granted the accused bail of R20 000 each and ordered that they report to the nearest police station every Monday and Friday; do not enter the KNP and do not have any form of contact with any of the witnesses.The case has been provisionally postponed to April 22 so that the investigation can be completed.5 minuten geleden · Vind ik leuk
Mon Feb 04, 2013 9:05 pm
That's how it goes, unfortunately!
But not the end!
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