Illegal wildlife trade suspects arrested

Handcuffs. File picture.
Handcuffs. File picture.
Image: Suhaib Salem

Six men allegedly involved in illegal wildlife trade and crimes have been arrested.

The six – between the ages of 25 and 30 – were expected to appear in the Grahamstown Magistrate’s Court on Friday on charges of conspiracy to commit a crime, possession of unlicensed firearms and possession of ammunition.

Police spokesperson Colonel Sibongile Soci said the suspects were arrested about 2km outside Grahamstown at about 4pm on Tuesday as part of Operation Full Moon.

“It is alleged that the suspects’ vehicles were stopped and upon investigation and during a search of the vehicles a 375 calibre rifle, nine rounds of ammunition and a large sum of money, two knives, two axes and nine cellphones were confiscated from both vehicles,” Soci said.

“All the suspects are Zimbabwean Nationals and the investigation continues to ascertain if they cannot be linked to other rhino poaching incidents in the province and/ or country.”

Provincial commissioner, Lieutenant-General Liziwe Ntshinga commended all the members involved in the operation.

“Significant progress had been made by specialist detectives assigned to tracking down rhino poaching syndicates... This is an indication that we are committed to turning the tide on illegal wildlife trade,” Ntshinga said.