More rhino poachers to be arrested, says Kruger

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Skukuza - The Kruger National Park expects to make more arrests related to rhino poaching in the world renowned reserve.

A former police officer and seven Mozambican nationals have already appeared in the White River Magistrate's Court in connection with rhino poaching in the park.

"We are proud to announce that we are expecting more arrests in connection with rhino poaching. The new strategy that we have implemented with the police is working very well and that is why people are being arrested," said Kruger Park spokesperson William Mabasa.

Mabasa declined to give details of the new anti-poaching strategy for fear of jeopardising investigations.

National police spokesperson Vishnu Naidoo said the former police officer, Joseph Nyalunga, 48, was arrested in Hazyview on Friday in connection with the possession of four rhino horns and R60 000 in cash.

He said the Mozambican nationals, Timothy Ngcobe, 44, David Lazerus, 29, Carlito Masundu, 25, Santos Smit, 28, Chicco Khoza, 35, Sam Mashaba, 36, and Sello Zitha, 35 were later arrested over the weekend.

"During the arrest of other suspects, police seized over R5 million in cash, several television sets, electronic devices, guns and 54 hunting knives that were recovered from four houses situated in different areas in the province," said Naidoo.

Naidoo said the eight faced various charges, including the contravention of the Endangered Species Act, possession of property suspected to be stolen and money laundering.

The eight were not asked to plead when they appeared in court on Monday. They were remanded in custody and the case was postponed to 12 March for bail applications.

Nyalungu is reported to have resigned from the police three years ago after being charged with involvement in a syndicate smuggling cigarettes and vehicles to and from Mozambique.

Meanwhile, four South African National Parks employees appeared in the White River Magistrate's Court on 1 March on charges of illegally hunting a rhino.

The two guides Duncan Mnisi, 34, and Charles Mabunda, 30, ranger Tiyani Mabunda, 28, and traffic officer Doctor Ngwenya, 31, who works in the Kruger, were not asked to plead.
They were remanded in custody and the case was postponed to this coming Thursday for further investigation.

Mabasa said the arrest of the four came as part of an on-going investigation that was launched in January.

The four accused were linked to an incident in which two rhino carcasses was found in the park on 28February.

Mabasa said tourists from one of the private open safari vehicles noticed the two carcasses and immediately alerted rangers and the police.

Since 3 February, 204 Kruger rangers have been on strike.

Mabasa said negotiations were continuing in order to end the strike. Since the strike began, police officers and soldiers have been patrolling the park. The striking workers are demanding equal payment for employees tasked with the same responsibilities.

Most Read