Management at the South African National Parks (SANParks) has welcomed the sentences handed down by the Skukuza Regional Court to two Mozambican nationals convicted of rhino poaching in the Kruger National Park (KNP).
Lucky Shihlangu, 33, and Sergio Mathebula, 32, we found guilty and sentenced to a total of 22 years but will serve 18 years effectively. They faced six charges related to the case and were found guilty on all six charges.
Field rangers in the Malelane Section of the KNP arrested the two on 21 September 2022. Rangers began searching for the pair after shots were heard and a fresh rhino carcass was discovered nearby.
The pursuit of the suspects resulted in the two poachers being discovered, and they were found in possession of a heavy calibre hunting rifle, live ammunition and two fresh rhino horns.
The State led evidence that linked the rifle and the horns to the carcass that was discovered nearby.
The Managing Executive of the KNP, Oscar Mthimkhulu, congratulated everyone who contributed to the arrest and conviction.
“We are glad to have removed a pair of criminals and poaching equipment from the system. We know there are big role players who still need to come to trial and hope they too will face the might of the law like their ground troops.
“Collaboration between all law enforcement agencies is important for us to get on top of the situation.
“The recent arrests, convictions and sentences should serve as a warning to criminals that we are serious about protecting our natural heritage and will continue in memory of our colleagues, who paid the ultimate price in their work,” Mthimkhulu said.
The Skukuza Regional Court has had a 100% conviction rate since the beginning of the year and has vowed to continue to convict anyone who hunts illegally in a national park. – SAnews.gov.za