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South African National Parks (SANParks) today congratulated the National Prosecuting Authority in Mpumalanga, after the Skukuza Regional court, convicted and sentenced a rhino poacher to an effective 22-year jail term.
Enoch Ngobeni was arrested on 17 April 2023 after Rangers heard gunshots and ran into two individuals while investigating the source of the shots, one was armed with a gun and the other was in possession of two fresh rhino horns in the Lower Sabie/Tshokwane Sections of the Kruger National Park (KNP). His co-accused who was in possession of the rifle managed to evade arrest. The court found Ngobeni guilty on six counts and sentenced him as follows:
- Trespassing- 2 years
- Illegal Immigrant – 1 year
- Restricted Activity in a national park (hunting rhino) – 10 years
- Restricted activity (hunting rhino) – 10years
- Conspiracy to commit crime – 4 years
- Possession of dangerous weapon – 1 year
The court ordered these sentences in count 1 and 2, run concurrently, as well as count 4,5 and 6, resulting in an effective 22 years imprisonment.
In yet another breakthrough, five suspected rhino poachers were arrested along the R40 near Hoedspruit by a multi-task team of detectives from the Endangered Species Unit, SANParks, Focused Conservation Solutions, Hoedspruit SAPS and Hoedspruit Farm Watch. The intelligence driven operation occurred on 04 July 2023 and led to the confiscation of:
1 x 303 hunting rifle
10 x 303 live rounds
1 x axe
The suspects are expected to appear in court in due course.
The Managing Executive of the KNP, Oscar Mthimkhulu congratulated all the teams, saying “the message is loud and clear, criminality does not pay and the cooperation between different stakeholders and law enforcement agencies is biting hard to ensure the safety of our natural resources. Our tight security systems are making it difficult for criminals to operate with impunity and the courts are giving appropriate sentences, we are grateful to all who are with us in fighting this worthy cause” concluded Mthimkhulu.