Mandla Khoza

The trial date for former police officer and alleged rhino poaching kingpin Joseph “Big Joe” Nyalungu has been set for April 4.

Nyalungu, who was arrested on December 12 last year, was not asked to plead when he appeared in the Middelburg regional court yesterday on charges of racketeering, money laundering and dealing in rhino horns.

“As the State we are ready for the trial and as the investigations continue anything we get will be to our advantage,” said spokesman of the NPA in Mpumalanga, Medupi Simasiku.

Nyalungu, who has been in custody since his arrest, was detained when police received information that he had taken rhino horns to Joburg. He was arrested while returning to Mpumalanga along with his co-accused, Conrad Nkuna.

Police seized about R3 million in cash from Nyalungu’s Range Rover and found remnants of rhino horn. DNA tests were done that provided full DNA profiles of two male white rhino, including one that had been poached in the Stolsnek area of the Kruger National Park during early December 2011.

Simasiku said Nyalungu was not working at the time and couldn’t explain the large amount of cash found in the Range Rover.

He is also said to have paid R290 000 cash for a Toyota Fortuna in May last year and R640 000 cash for the Range Rover the following month.

Simasiku declined to give details about the other accused since Nyalungu is being prosecuted separately. – African Eye News Service