Alleged poachers appear in court

The six suspected rhino poachers will remain in custody for now

Rhino. File picture
Rhino. File picture
Image: 123RF/Jacoba Susanna Maria Swanepoel

The six suspected rhino poachers who were arrested in the Eastern Cape two weeks ago will remain in custody until a Shona interpreter is available.

All six appeared in the Grahamstown Magistrate's Court on Thursday for a bail application, which was later postponed.

Police spokesperson Colonel Sibongile Soci said the bail application was postponed indefinitely for the court to allocate a Shona interpreter to the case.

No date has been set yet for the new bail application as it is reliant on the allocation of the interpreter.

Asked why the police are not naming the men, Soci explained that on other occasions, when some of the men had been previously arrested, they gave different names.

Soci said that the names would only be revealed once detectives establish their real identities as well as their legitimacy for being in the county.

The men were arrested on July 31 as part of an anti-poaching exercise dubbed Operation Full Moon.

The latest rhino carcass was found on August 2 on the Great Fish River Nature Reserve, situated between Makhanda and King William’s Town. The animal was believed to have been shot, and de-horned, several days prior to the discovery.

Soci said the suspects had been arrested about 2km outside Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown) as part of Operation Full Moon.

“It is alleged that the suspects’ vehicles were stopped and upon 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 or the whole country.”

Police are still awaiting the ballistic results to determine if the weapon can be tied to other poaching’s across the country.