Johannesburg - North West premier Thandi Modise on Friday commended the Hawks for arresting three men linked to rhino poaching in the province.
She said the arrests of the men in Gauteng on Thursday evening were a breakthrough, and signalled the determination of law enforcement agencies to combat poaching. There was, however, still much work to be done.
“The onslaught against those involved in the cruelty and brutality against the rhino as a symbol of our ecology and rich heritage has to be intensified, for syndicates involved in the evil trade to face the full might of the law.”
Modise said the provincial government was considering asking the SA National Defence Force to help.
Captain Paul Ramaloko said three men, who lived in Rustenburg, were arrested in central Pretoria, Katlehong and Alberton. Three hunting rifles were confiscated.
“The men are believed to be part of one syndicate and there are still more people involved. Bit by bit we are getting them down. We are closing in on the kingpin.”
The men, aged 36 to 58, would appear in Brits Magistrate's Court on Monday. They were linked to a trio arrested on Tuesday for the poaching of eight rhino on the farm Klipkopspruit, near Brits. Acting on a tip-off, the Hawks found them in their homes in the Lethabo township. One of them was a ranger.
The men, aged between 47 and 59, appeared in the Brits Magistrate's Court on Thursday. Their case was postponed to December 5 for a formal bail application.
Ramaloko said at least 21 rhino were slain in the province this month. He could not confirm if one syndicate was responsible for all the killings.