Two jailed for rhino horn possession

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IOL pic mar10 prison bars worn AFP Two men were recently convicted and each sentenced to six years imprisonment for being in possession of rhino horn. File picture: Timothy A Clary

Richards Bay, KwaZulu-Natal -

Two men were recently convicted and each sentenced to six years’ imprisonment for being in possession of rhino horn.

One of the men is also facing further rhino horn charges in the Richards Bay Regional Court in September.

Thulani Mbatha, 27, of Vryheid, and Muntogokwakhe Israel Khoza, 44, of Ulundi, were stopped on the Vryheid-Dundee road by the Kingsley police on March 15 last year.

Khoza, who had been driving, produced a driving licence belonging to an MV Zungu.

The police had apparently discovered the fraud and placed him under arrest.

A well-placed source said Mbatha had a black bag between his legs on the floor of the vehicle. When police inspected it, they found it contained two rhino horns.

The Richards Bay Regional Court rejected Mbatha’s version that he was acting alone, and that Khoza was merely giving him a lift.

The court accepted the testimony of State witnesses Constables Xolani Mbense and Sifisi Khumalo, of the Kingsley SAPS, who had testified that Khoza had shown his knowledge of the horns. They said Mbatha had also admitted knowledge of the horns.

They were both sentenced to six years’ imprisonment for possession of rhino horns, and Khoza was convicted of fraud and driving without a licence.

He was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment for fraud and three months’ imprisonment or a R1 000 fine for the licence conviction.

In Khoza’s other matter, he is charged with hunting a rhino and being in unlawful possession of a firearm.

He has pleaded not guilty to this charge and is expected to appear in court with three others in September.

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