SANParks man in court over hunting

Crime & Courts

Makhado - An SA National Parks employee accused of illegal commercial hunting was granted bail of R2500 in the Makhado Magistrate's Court on Wednesday.

Michael Sematla had been implicated in a number of illegal commercial hunting activities on state-owned land, SANParks spokesman Reynold Thakhuli said.

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The activities involved hunting professionals and game meat operators. Sematla was based in one of the parks under SANParks' management.

Thakhuli said he allegedly used the organisation's stationery to make “illegal transactions appear to be an activity sanctioned by SANParks”.

The illegal hunts happened on Den Staat farm in Limpopo, he said. The farm is a state-owned property. It has an open system with the Mapungubwe National Park and World Heritage Site, so no fence exists between the two properties.

Thakhuli said that as many as 16 hunting groups would visit the area on certain days, even out of official hunting season.

Sematla faces charges of:

* bringing SANParks' name into disrepute by advertising illegal hunts with price lists using the organisation's official stationery and electronic communications;

* involvement in illegal commercial hunting business for personal gain in a conservation area;

* falsifying documentation including hunting permits and transportation of game carcasses;

* contravening veterinary regulations (a health risk as the activities occurred in a controlled foot and mouth veterinary area); and

* non-declaration of interest in a hunting business.

Sematla would be back in court on March 7.


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