The South African National Parks (SANParks) has recently commended the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in Mpumalanga on the successful prosecution of two long standing rhino poaching trials in the Mhala Regional Court.
SANParks said in a statement that three people who were arrested in August 2018 were sentenced by the Mhala Regional Court in February 2021, following a long trial. The three were all found guilty of rhino poaching related charges including possession of two sets of rhino horns, a high calibre hunting rifle, ammunition and trespassing in a national park with the intention of committing crime and the illegal hunting of an endangered animal.
Accused number one, Peter Mathebula was sentenced to 23 years behind bars while his two co-accused, Mustard Mathebula and Artur Valoyi were sentenced to four years in jail. The three were arrested by SANParks Rangers in the Houtboschrand Section of the Kruger National Park after reacting to shots that were fired.
On the 15th of March this year, the court concluded yet another long running rhino poaching case which dated back to 2016. Two men, Bennet Martin Lubisi and Bennet Johannes Bendane were sentenced to eight years in prison for poaching related charges. They were found guilty of trespassing in a national park, possession of an unlicensed firearm, ammunition with the intention to commit a crime. They were arrested before they could kill an animal.
The Managing Executive of Kruger National Park, Gareth Coleman praised those who made the initial arrests, the investigative and the prosecuting teams.
“Although it has taken some time, we are proud of the work done by the rangers, the investigating and prosecuting teams under very difficult circumstances. Successes of this nature show the importance of co-operation between the various state agencies to help combat the assault on the rhino population in the Kruger National Park. We hope that the many outstanding cases can be concluded as soon as possible so as to act as a clear deterrent to those involved” concluded Coleman.
Meanwhile it has been confirmed that cases at the Skukuza Regional court will resume on the 1st of April 2021.