Provincial Commissioner welcomes sentencing of three poachers

NELSPRUIT – The Provincial Commissioner of the SAPS in Mpumalanga, Lieutenant General Semakaleng Daphney Manamela has welcomed the decision to sentence three poachers regardless of awaited forensic results. Sibusiso Mahlaule, aged 29, and George Manyise, aged 30 as well as 34-year-old Rodrigues Ngobeni did not escape the might of the law as they were sentenced by the Skukuza Regional Court for poaching on Friday, 11 March 2022.

Their sentences emanate from an incident in which the three were caught by field rangers at Kruger National Park on 18 April 2021. It is said that the rangers, working at Pretoriuskop Section (inside the Kruger National Park) discovered something sinister which raised suspicions of the presence of intruders. The rangers then began to be on the lookout and followed some tracks with the assistance of tracker dogs as well as a helicopter belonging to SANParks.

It was not long before the field rangers spotted the three men. These men were then cornered and apprehended. There were certain items found in their possession, which included a .375 H&H bolt action rifle with a fitted silencer, as well as three cartridges of a .375 H&H.

Police at Skukuza were notified about the incident and on their arrival, all three suspects were arrested and charged for trespassing, as well as for conspiracy to commit crime. Meanwhile a charge of contravention of the Immigration Act was added upon Rodrigues Ngobeni after police established that he was from the country of Mozambique and was in South Africa illegally. The case was then handed over to the experts in the field of stock theft, hence the Stock Theft Unit of the SAPS at Skukuza took over the investigation.

The three accused were subsequently brought to court and whilst the probe was ongoing, where detectives were still waiting for forensic outcome in their case, the three accused persons consider that as an opportunity that would probably work in their favour. They then decided to plead guilty. The court accepted their plea however they were not exempted from punishment as they were sentenced as follows:

On the count of trespassing, the three accused were each sentenced to 2 years imprisonment. On the count of conspiracy to commit a crime, the three accused were each sentenced to 5 years imprisonment, meanwhile Ngobeni was sentenced to an additional 8 years imprisonment for contravention of the Immigration Act.

The Provincial Commissioner of the SAPS in Mpumalanga Lieutenant General Semakaleng Daphney Manamela added that people should continue to obey the laws of the country, including the laws that have been put in place to protect nature. “We further applaud the good working relationship that was exists amongst the team of field rangers, the Investigators, as well as the Prosecution Team and the Judiciary. We also hope that the sentence will serve as a lesson that, one way or another, there is punishment for law breakers,” concluded the General.

Source: South African Police Service