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Zonderwater - Four men accused of killing and dehorning a rhino and wounding another in Limpopo earlier this week appeared in the Lephalale Magistrate's Court on Wednesday, the Hawks said.

Kenny Sibiya, 31, Butini Ndlovu, 42, Richard Sibuyani, 48, and Sam Nnone, 30, were charged with rhino poaching and possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition, Hawks spokesman Captain Paul Ramaloko said.

The matter was postponed to March 28 for a formal bail application. They would remain in police custody.

The four were arrested on Monday, after rangers at the Zonderwater farm in Lephalale found two rhino. One had been dehorned and killed and another was wounded, Ramaloko said. A set of rhino horns, a hunting rifle with ammunition, a saw and a car were seized during the arrest.

Five other suspected poachers, aged between 23 and 34, were arrested in Bela Bela on Tuesday afternoon for alleged possession of a rhino horn, Ramaloko said.

“The suspects were arrested during what was supposed to be a rhino horn transaction between the suspects and an undercover buyer.”

The horn appeared to have been cut off an adult rhino months before.

The group would appear at the Bela Bela Magistrate's Court on Thursday on charges of the illegal possession of a rhino horn, he said.

Jaime Mashavane, 39, Thomas Chauke, 40, and Moses Mathobo, 32, were arrested in Vaalwater, Limpopo earlier this month, also in connection with rhino poaching.

Police found an axe and a hunting rifle in their possession. They remain in police custody.

Head of the Hawks in Limpopo Maj-Gen Dibero Molatjana said the team was committed to confronting poaching.

“We will continue to surprise them in the thick bushes where they are operating from.”