Lengthy jail terms for rhino poachers

Two men have been given heavy sentences for poaching.
Two men have been given heavy sentences for poaching.
Image: Tshepo Kekana

Two men have been sentenced to lengthy jail terms for their involvement in the poaching of rhinos at the Kruger National Park about four years ago‚ Limpopo police said on Thursday.

Joseph Molapo and Sebastian Mbhombhi were sentenced by the Saselamani Magistrate’s Court outside Giyani to an effective 15 years and six months’ imprisonment each on Thursday.

They were sentenced to four years each for rhino poaching‚ six months for trespassing‚ eight years for possession of unlicensed firearms and three years for possession of unlicensed ammunition.

Police spokesman Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe said the men were arrested in October 2014 after they entered the Kruger National Park illegally with the intention to hunt rhinos for their horns. At the time‚ the poachers could be seen wearing uniforms similar to those worn by park rangers.

“During the operation‚ a shootout ensued between the (park) rangers and poachers resulting in one of the suspects being fatally wounded. The remaining two were arrested inside the park‚” Ngoepe said.

Ngoepe said the arrests and convictions were as a result of relentless efforts made by the joint operations teams composed of officials from the Kruger National Park‚ the dedicated team of rangers‚ the police’s provincial stock theft unit and the community farm policing sectors.

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