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Mbombela - Three suspected rhino poachers appeared in the Skukuza Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday, a Sapa correspondent reported.

They would remain in custody until October 21, when they would apply for bail in the Kabokweni Magistrate's Court. They had not been asked to plead yet.

Mpumalanga police first arrested Edwin Mdluli, 23, and confiscated a bag containing two fresh rhino horns during a stop and search operation between KaNyamazane and Mbombela last Thursday.

On Monday, police raided a house in KaNyamazane where they arrested Bheki Mdluli 36, and later Ralph Mlambo, 25.

Skukuza police spokesman Warrant Officer Oubaas Coetzer said Edwin Mdluli was arrested when police stopped a Nissan single cab bakkie.

“There were five people inside. As it stopped four suspects got out and fled on foot. The driver of the bakkie remained inside and police conducted a search and found a rifle and 12 live rounds of ammunition wrapped in an overall,” he said.

When police searched the vehicle further they found two rhino horns in a bag.

“Bheki Mdluli and Mlambo were also linked to the rhino poaching case and are believed to had been travelling together with Edwin when they were stopped. The two other suspects are still at large,” said Coetzer.

Coetzer said the rhino was believed to have been poached in the Malalane section of Skukuza. He said Mlambo had previously been implicated in rhino poaching cases. The two rhino horns retrieved apparently matched a carcass found at Skukuza.