Alleged EC rhino poachers denied bail

Six suspected rhino poachers arrested about two months ago will remain behind bars

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

Six suspected rhino poachers arrested in the Eastern Cape less than two months ago have been denied bail by the Grahamstown Magistrate’s Court.

The men, all Zimbabwean nationals who have never been named as police were still confirming their identities, appeared in court on Thursday.

Provincial police spokeswoman Colonel Sibongile Soci said that since their arrest on July 31, police had established that some of the men – who had been arrested previously – had given different names.

The court also postponed the case in August to check the availability of a Shona court interpreter.

“Because of this, detectives needed time to establish their true identities and liaise with the Department of Home Affairs to establish if they legally in the country,” she said.

“The court also needed to locate an interpreter to assist with the court proceedings.”

Soci said that the Stock Theft and Endangered Species Unit specialist anti-rhino poaching task team had since established the gangs real identities.

All six men applied for bail on Thursday. 

Soci said  the accused, namely Francis Chitiyo, Trymore Chauke,Misheck Chauke,Simba Masingo, Nhamo Muyambo and Abraham Moyane, all aged between 25 and 45 years, were all denied bail by the court.

The men were arrested about 2km outside Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown) as part of anti- poaching exercise dubbed 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 added.

In the Eastern Cape, the latest rhino carcass found was 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 discovery.This brings the number of poaching's in the province this year to 12, the same number of rhinos poached in the province during 2017.

Other suspected poachers who appeared in the Grahamstown High Court in June are Jabulani Ndlovu‚ 40‚ Forget Ndlovu‚ 37‚ and Sikhumbuzo Ndlovu‚ 38.

The three pleaded not guilty to over 50 criminal charges relating to the poaching and harvesting of the horns of some 13 rhino over five years in the Eastern Cape.

According to the indictment‚ the three men were caught red-handed in a chalet at Makana Resort in June 2016 with a 10.27kg freshly harvested rhino horn valued at R1-million‚ a bloody saw‚ a dart gun and M99 as well as cellphones and SIM cards.

The Ndlovu gang are due to appear in the same court on 26 November.

Provincial commissioner Lieutenant-General Liziwe Ntshinga warned that they were not going to allow syndicates to get away with killing wildlife.

“We have made significant progress in tracking down rhino poaching syndicates and we will continue to do so. The results speak for themselves as currently there are more than 9 suspected poachers in custody, facing lengthy jail time,” she warned. 
“This is an indication that we are committed to turning the tide on illegal wildlife trade.”

All the cases are being monitored by Ntshinga and the national police head office.

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