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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 10-year jail term.
Friday Ngoveni was arrested in 2017 in the Stolznek section of the Kruger National Park (KNP). He was found in possession of a 458-calibre hunting rifle, ammunition, and an axe. He and his co-accused successfully applied for bail and never returned for their trial on the appointed day. A warrant of arrest was then authorised.
This year he was apprehended and appeared in court on 04 December and pleaded guilty and was sentenced as follows:
- Trespassing in a National Park – 2 years imprisonment
- Possession of a prohibited illegal firearm – 6 years imprisonment
- Conspiracy to commit a crime- 4 years imprisonment.
- Possession of unlicenced ammunition – 2 years imprisonment
- Possession of a dangerous weapon – 1-year imprisonment
The court ordered that the sentences in count 1 run concurrently with that of count 3. Sentences in count 4 and 5 run concurrently with count 2, resulting in an effective sentence of 10 years imprisonment. The accused was also declared unfit to possess a firearm in terms of Section 103 of ACT 60 of 2000.
Reacting to the sentence, the managing executive of the KNP, Oscar Mthimkhulu said “The continuous successful prosecution and sentencing of poachers in the court certainly boosts the morale of the hardworking men and women of the Rangers Corps who patrol the bush, day and night chasing after criminals to protect our natural heritage. We are grateful to the NPA for compiling a fool-proof docket and the court for imposing the sentence. We hope other criminals will learn from this experience as we have eyes and ears everywhere, 24/7 and will catch them and ensure that they are put behind bars for a very long time” concluded Mthimkhulu.