The Provincial Commissioner of the SAPS in Mpumalanga, Lieutenant General Semakaleng Daphney Manamela was elated by the manner in which the court has been dealing with cases regarding poachers in the past few weeks and recently, on Friday 08 April 2022 the cases regarding two poachers were separately finalised. The poachers suffered yet another big blow on that day as the two were sentenced by the Skukuza Regional Court for their fair share in poaching.
In one of the matters finalised in court involves Munandi Mathebula, aged 42 who is said to have been engaged in poaching activities at the Kruger National Park. On 19 January 2015 the accused entered the park with his two accomplices through Kingfisherspruit Section. On that day, Field Rangers noticed some strange human footprints which suggested that about three people had crossed one of the roads in the section. With the assistance of a tracker dog the rangers managed to trace and later cornered two of the three intruders where one unfortunately disappeared without a trace. The two were identified and one was Mathebula whilst the other was Eugene Malungane, aged 36. The two men were found in possession of a .375 H&H bolt-action rifle as well as 10 cartridges of the rifle and an axe.
Police at Skukuza were brought on board and the two were subsequently arrested and charged accordingly. The case was handled by an astute team of investigators, experts in the field of probing Stocktheft, particularly on matters involving poaching. They two men were then taken to court where they were granted bail however they failed to show up on their next court date. The court then issued a warrant of arrest for the two accused. Police then launched a manhunt for them.
On 28 June 2021 Mathebula was rearrested and this time around bail was successfully opposed by the team of investigators who gave reference to what had transpired the previous time he and his co-accused were granted bail. On 08 April 2022 he pleaded guilty to all the charges against him and he was sentenced to an effective 13 years imprisonment for trespassing in the Kruger National Park, conspiracy to commit a crime, possession of unlicensed firearm, possession of unlicensed ammunition, possession of dangerous weapon. The court further declared him as unfit to possess a firearm.
Meanwhile Cassamo Chauke, aged 59 was sentenced in connection with a case involving poaching where he too entered the Kruger National Park illegally so through Malalane Section on 19 January 2019. Field Rangers are said to have been alerted of an intruder in the park when they heard sound of gunshots. The rangers responded and began tracing where they managed to apprehend Chauke in possession of a high calibre hunting rifle, an axe as well as fresh rhinoceros horns. The carcass of a large bull rhinoceros which was shot and killed with horns removed was discovered. In a distance of about a kilometre away, three more rhinoceros were found, where two were killed and their horns removed whilst the third one was badly wounded though still alive, however its horns were removed. Eventually the rhinoceros was put down (euthanized).
The police at Skukuza were informed about the incident and the accused was arrested and charged accordingly. Police also established that Chauke was born in Mozambique but was in South Africa illegally. Through forensic evidence, it was also determined that the rifle that was found in Chauke's possession was in fact used in the shooting of the said rhinoceros.
Prior to the court sentencing him on the said day (08 April 2022), he pleaded guilty to all the charges levelled against him and he was then sentenced to a total of 19 years imprisonment for trespassing in a National Park, contravention of the Immigration Act, hunting of protected animals in the park, possession of a firearm with the intend to commit a crime, possession of unlicenced firearm. The court also declared him unfit to possess a firearm
Meanwhile the Provincial Commissioner of the SAPS in Mpumalanga, Lieutenant General Semakaleng Daphney Manamela has reiterated her call for people observe and obey the laws of the country, including legislation intended to protect and preserve nature and endangered species. "Jointly with our partners in the law enforcement space, we will continue to act decisively without fear or favour against those who break the law. We are glad that the court continue to send a clear message to perpetrators of crime, that those who choice to disobey will be punished" said the General.
Source: South African Police Service