Three rhino poachers were handed a heavy sentence by the Mogwase Regional Court, in North West, on Wednesday, 20 October. The trio has been in police custody throughout their trial and is expected to remain behind bars for decades to come.
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Henry Mamothame said Arlendo Mhlanga, Adam Hlongwane and Inancio Chauke were sentenced to a cumulative jail term of 85 years imprisonment for offences related to rhino poaching.
“The trio, who are from Mozambique, were arrested on 2 July 2018 trying to leave the game reserve in a white Ford bakkie loaded with stolen rhino horns valued at R1,5 million,” said Mamothame in a statement on Thursday, 21 October.
“Subsequent to their arrest, they applied for bail and it was denied. They remained in police custody until the completion of the trial.”
The rhino poachers were charged with three counts of illegally killing female rhinos, possession of a prohibited firearm, possession of ammunition, possession of six rhino horns, chopping six rhino horns from three rhino carcasses, intentionally and unlawfully conveying six rhino horns, theft of three rhino horns and entering a heritage site without written permission.
The ten charges that Mhlanga, Hlongwane and Chauke were faced totted up to 85 years imprisonment, however, the court ordered that some of the sentences run concurrently. Therefore, the rhino poachers will serve an effective 35 years in prison.
The court also declared that the poachers were unfit to possess firearms and said the Ford bakkie, along with their other possessions, will be forfeited to the state.
“In aggravation of sentence, Advocate Douw Jacobs urged the court to consider the evidence submitted by conservation experts on the extinction of the rhino population and its impact,” said the NPA spokesperson.
Jacobs argued that rhino poaching has a negative impact on the tourism industry and the economy as it results in job losses.