An SA National Parks former field sergeant and two police constables were arrested for alleged rhino poaching at the Kruger National Park on Tuesday, the Hawks said.
“The suspects were tasked with the responsibility to patrol the streets around the park and to confront suspicious vehicles,” said Mpumalanga Hawks head Maj-Gen Simon Mapyane.
“It is clear that these members were doing the opposite.”
The policemen faced charges of corruption. The former field sergeant was charged with possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition.
SANParks spokesman Ike Phaahla said park rangers and the Hawks’ endangered species team saw a black rhino carcass in the Kruger National Park.
They pulled over a marked Skukuza police van after a tip-off. They searched it and found a person suspected of being a poacher inside. He was armed with a .375 hunting rifle and rounds of ammunition, he said.
Phaahla said the policemen could not explain why the man was in the van. They were arrested.
“During the operation, the rifle, ammunition, a silencer and poaching equipment were seized,” he said.
Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa congratulated the SANParks and police officials who made their arrests on their outstanding work.
“The arrest sends a strong message that officials alleged to be involved in poaching will be arrested and face the full might of the law,” she said.
Phaahla said the Kruger National Park had lost 272 animals and 52 people had been arrested since the beginning of the year.
“Of the total number of rhino poached, 48 rhino have been killed in Limpopo, 41 in KwaZulu-Natal and 26 in North West.
“A total of 119 people have been arrested in connection with rhino poaching,” he said.
Phaahla said a total of 419 rhino have been poached in South Africa since January. – Sapa