Sentencing of rhino poarchers welcomed

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Pretoria - The South African National Parks (SANParks) has welcomed the conviction of three suspected rhino poachers who appeared in the Nelspruit Regional Court on Monday.

The three suspects, Renaldo Franchesco Masiki, Joao Sendelani Malangute and Elvis Mdaka were found guilty of illegally hunting rhinos. 

The three Mozambique citizens were arrested in October 2010 at the Crocodile Bridge Section of the Kruger National Park. 

Masiki and Mdaka (accused one and three) were further found guilty on charges of possession of illegal fire arms and ammunition and were sentenced to an effective nine years imprisonment without an option of a fine, while accused Malangute, was sentenced to an effective five years behind bars without an option of a fine. 

According to Wanda Mkutshulwa, Head of Communications at SANParks, the organisation is very pleased with this sentencing and hopes for even tougher sentences to be meted against such criminals.

Mkutshulwa said the other two accused were sentenced to four years imprisonment on each of the charges for possession of firearms and ammunition, but for the purpose of sentencing, the charges were combined to four years. 

She said the last time a harsh sentence was handed down was when a Vietnamese man was sentenced to ten years in prison after been caught trying to smuggle 18kg of rhino horns from the OR Tambo International Airport in July 2010.

South Africa has lost 71 rhinos so far this year with 46 in the Kruger National Park, nine in Limpopo, North West, Mpumalanga and Western Cape each losing one rhino and KwaZulu-Natal lost six. To date 64 suspected rhino poachers have been arrested. 

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