Rhino poachers in court

Two suspected poachers, one of them a South African, were arrested for straying into a wildlife conservancy outside Beit Bridge and allegedly shooting and killing two black rhinos worth R2 million, before dehorning them.

Mateu Mahlangu (23) of E320 Rustenburg in Johannesburg, and Dovhani Sibanda (32) of Driehoek village outside Beit Bridge appeared in court last Friday. They pleaded not guilty to charges of contravening sections of the Parks and Wildlife Act (hunting and killing an endangered species and possession of rhino horns) and the Firearms Act (possession of an unlicensed firearm) when they appeared before Magistrate Auxilia Chiumburu.

The case was postponed and the pair remains in custody.

The court was told that on 8 April, the two men unlawfully acquired a Sako .308 rifle without a fire-arm licence. They fitted the rifle with a silencer and proceeded to Bubye Valley Conservancy, where they tracked down some rhinos.

The court heard that the two accused spotted two black rhinos and they shot and killed the animals. They then skinned them before removing the horns. It was also testified that they took the horns to Sibanda’s homestead, where they removed a transmitter from one of the horns used in tracking the rhinos and burnt it.

The offence was discovered by the game rangers and they reported the matter to the police. Investigations led to the arrest of Mahlangu and Sibanda and the subsequent recovery of four rhino horns, some knives and a loaded rifle with 12 rounds of ammunition hidden underground.

The court heard that the two men intended to smuggle the horns into South Africa. – LiN News/Limpopo Mirror