Cape Town – The Skukuza Regional Court convicted and sentenced three men to hefty sentences, totalling over 100 years, for poaching-related offences.
Zwelithini Mathebula 37, and Lucky Mhlongo 39, were sentenced to 34 years’ imprisonment while their co-accused Teddy Dlamini 37, was sentenced to 39 years’ imprisonment.
NPA regional spokesperson Monica Nyuswa, said that the three culprits were arrested in November 2019, along with their two co-accused who absconded after they were granted bail.
"The three were convicted of killing three rhinos, possession of a prohibited firearm, possession of a firearm, conspiracy to commit a crime, possession of ammunition, and possession of a dangerous weapon.
"Dlamini was further convicted of pointing a firearm and trespassing in the National Park, and on November, 23 2019.
“A ranger was patrolling in the Malelane section when he spotted a vehicle with five occupants. Upon stopping it, Dlamini pointed a firearm at the ranger. Upon searching the vehicle, a rifle and six rhino horns were found inside (and the men were) arrested. The ranger continued with the search and found three carcasses a few metres away from the scene," she said.
Nyuswa said the men pleaded not guilty. State prosecutor Lot Mgiba led evidence of the arresting officer who testified about what he observed when arresting the accused,. He also gave evidence about DNA which was found on Dlamini’s clothes.
“It positively linked him with the one carcass. Evidence of a bullet that was found in a carcass also confirmed that the bullet was fired from a rifle which was found in the accused’s possession,” she said.
Nyuswa further added that the NPA was pleased with the sentence imposed on the accused and he commended the prosecution and the investigating team for a job well done.