Rhino poaching syndicate nabbed in Pretoria

23 September 2014 – The Hawks have arrested a suspected rhino poaching ringleader and his nine accomplices for their alleged involvement in a string of rhino- poaching and related activities in the country.

The arrest was made in an intelligence-led operation conducted in four provinces. The ringleader was arrested in the Pretoria North Magistrate’s Court on Monday while appearing on a separate rhino poaching-related case, according to Hawks head, Lieutenant General Anwa Dramat.

“The team arrested the other members of this criminal group simultaneously in Polokwane in Limpopo, Ficksburg in the Free State, Potchefstroom in the North West and in Montana, Mamelodi and Kameeldrift in Gauteng,’ Dramat said.

The syndicate – the members of which are aged between 30 and 50 – mainly operated in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West, Gauteng, and KwaZulu-Natal.

The group is alleged to have contributed to the brutal slaughter and mutilation of 24 rhinos in state and privately owned game reserves.

Dramat said only two of the 24 rhinos that had been attacked had survived, but they were dehorned after they had been darted.

The killings took place between 2008 and 2012.

“The 34 horns were either stolen or obtained through other devious means. In total, the syndicate illegally obtained 84 rhino horns and killed 22 rhinos valued at nearly R22- million,’ said Dramat.

The 10, which include a police officer and a lawyer, will appear in the Magistrate’s Court in Hatfield, Pretoria, on Monday on rhino poaching-related charges including theft, fraud, malicious injury to property, attempting to defeat the ends of justice, racketeering, money laundering, intimidation, illegal possession of firearms and ammunition. The case was postponed to Monday for a bail application.