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Former police official sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for the possession of two ‘freshly cut’ rhino horns and an unlicensed firearm

When Sizwe Buthelezi was arrested in 2018, he was found with a hunting rifle with live rounds of ammunition, three hunting knives and two freshly cut rhino horns. Picture: SAPS

When Sizwe Buthelezi was arrested in 2018, he was found with a hunting rifle with live rounds of ammunition, three hunting knives and two freshly cut rhino horns. Picture: SAPS

Published Feb 9, 2022

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DURBAN - Former police official Sizwe Buthelezi, 39, was convicted and sentenced by the Durban Regional Court to 10 years direct imprisonment for the possession of an unlicensed firearm and rhino horns.

Hawks spokesperson Captain Simphiwe Mhlongo said on October 11, 2018, while Buthelezi was still a police official with the KwaMsane Tactical Response Team, he was seen leaving the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park. The Rhino 9 Task Team and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife officials who were in the vicinity tried to stop him, but he sped off, and a high-speed chase ensued. He eventually lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a house.

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“Buthelezi was found in possession of a hunting rifle with live rounds of ammunition, three hunting knives and two freshly cut rhino horns. He was placed under arrest and later charged accordingly by the Hawks members from Richards Bay Serious Organised Crime Investigation,” Mhlongo said.

He said officers conducted an intensive investigation, and Buthelezi appeared in the Ngwelezane Magistrate’s Court on October 15, 2018.

Later, the case was transferred to Durban Regional Court for trial.

“Buthelezi appeared in court several times until he was sentenced yesterday. He was further declared unfit to possess a firearm,” Mhlongo said.

Buthelezi’s conviction and sentencing came the same day Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Minister Barbara Creecy revealed that a total of 451 rhinos were poached in South Africa last year.

Creecy said 327 rhinos were poached within government reserves, and 124 were poached on private property.

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She said while there was a 24% decrease in rhino poaching compared to the pre-Covid period in 2019, there has been an increase in poaching on private property.

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HawksCrime and courts

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