Police said they had apprehended five suspected poachers on a Kroonstad farm, where Rhino Camp is situated. Picture: AP Photo/Renee Graham, File

Johannesburg - Police on Thursday said they had apprehended five suspected poachers before they could harm rhinos on a Kroonstad farm, where Rhino Camp is situated.

Sergeant Fikiswa Matoti said in the early hours of Saturday morning several men entered the farm and then climbed over the fence that leads to the Rhino Camp. 

"The security guards working at the farm saw a group of assailants and approached them. On getting nearer, the suspects started shooting at them and the guards fired back," said Matoti.

Police were summoned and a search for the suspects ensued. 

"At about 01:50 am two suspects were caught," said Matoti. A third suspect who was driving was arrested a few minutes later.

"According to information received, it was planned that at a certain time the driver would come and collect his accomplices."  

Matoti said police were informed that two men with gunshot wounds had sought treatment at a hospital in Odendaalsrus. 

The wounded men were arrested after police linked them to the botched attempt to poach rhino and the subsequent shootout. 

The suspects named as Andries Baloyi, 36, Moketele Mthombeni, 28, Moses Mthombeni, 46, Isak Nteo, 36, and Dan Vilankulu, 34, appeared in Kroonstad Magistrate’s Court on Monday on charges of Rhino Poaching.

The suspects will be back in court next week on Friday, 21 July 2017.