Rhino horn theft accused get bail

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Mbombela - Four Mpumalanga men arrested in connection with the theft of 112 rhino horns were each released on R20 000 bail in the Nelspruit Magistrate's Court on Friday.

The four were Gideon Mtshali, 51, Sizwe Leonard Malatjie, 34, Selby Khoza, 39, and Velly William Zwane, 43, a Sapa correspondent reported.

Prosecutor Ansie Venter told the court that the State would no longer oppose bail and had come to an agreement with the accused's legal representatives for them to be released.

Venter also asked the court to set the accused's bail at R20 000 each and have strict bail conditions instructing them to report to their local police stations once every day between 5am and 7pm.

She said the accused should also report when leaving their home address, even if it's for work.

They were also required to hand over their travelling documents to the investigating officer by 4pm on Monday.

Mtshali and Malatjie were arrested on June 6 and 7 respectively while Khoza was arrested on June 23 in Pretoria, where he works.

Zwane was arrested on July 2 after handing himself to the police.

Both Mtshali and Malatjie have pleaded not guilty to housebreaking and theft charges while Khoza and Zwane have not been asked to plead to the same charges.

They are accused of breaking into the safe house of the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency's offices in Mbombela and stealing rhino horns which were confiscated from rhino poachers by the police and rangers.

Magistrate Christa du Plessis warned the accused not to jeopardise investigations, threaten witnesses, stage public disorder, or contact any witnesses indirectly or directly.

The case was postponed to October 15 for the state to finalise the investigations.


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