Stiff sentences given to rhino poachers welcomed

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Zodidi Mhlana

JOHANNESBURG- With South Africa losing hundreds of rhinos to poachers each year, Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa on Thursday welcomed the sentences given to two rhino poachers this week.

Molewa said that the sentences proved that plans implemented in a bid to fight poaching were working.

“The sentences handed down by the Lephalale Regional Court, and the swift actions of the North West police in arresting five people trying to sell ivory in Rustenburg is to be commended.  These actions are further proof that the Integrated Strategic Management Approach adopted by Government to combat rhino poaching, and which is now also being applied to addressing wildlife crimes such as ivory smuggling, is bearing fruit,” she said.

Molewa’s remarks come after two rhino poachers, Kenny Mthethi, 35, and Sam None, 34, were each sentenced in the Lephalale Regional Court to 58 years imprisonment on charges of hunting protected species, possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition and trespassing.

The duo was found in possession of two rhino horns, a rifle, and ammunition during a police raid.

A slight decline in the number of rhino slaughtered in South Africa in 2017 was recorded. A total of 1 028 rhinos were poached from 1 January 2017 to 31 December 2017 compared to 1 054 in the same period for 2016.

Molewa also commended the arrest of five people in Lefaragatlha near Rustenburg who were nabbed while attempting to sell ivory.

“The two cases in which the public were involved should serve as an example to all that working together more can be achieved,” Molewa added.

At least 502 alleged rhino poachers 16 traffickers were nabbed last year. This showed a decline in the number of poachers who were arrested in 2016. Nearly 450 poachers were arrested in the Kruger National Park. A total of 21 officials were also arrested for poaching-related offences.

@Mhlana
zodidi.Mhlana@africanews.24-7.co.za