The sentence that was imposed is a very strong message to likeminded poachers…
Kruger National Park – Three rhino poachers were found guilty of illegal rhino hunting and sentenced to 25 years of imprisonment.
The trio was found guilty of the poaching of 13 rhinos between 2013 and 2016.
Jabulani Ndlovu (40), Forget Ndlovu (37) and Sikhumbuzo Ndlovu (38), collectively known as the Ndlovu Gang, were each sentenced to 25 years in jail for the 13 poaching incidents which saw 22 rhino killed in the Eastern Cape over the five year period.
They were sentenced in the Grahamstown High Court on Friday. All three were found guilty on 55 separate counts with the shortest sentence five years and the longest 15. The sentences will run concurrently, the court ruled, which will see all serve an effective 25-year term.
Police made a major breakthrough in curbing rhino poaching when they arrested the trio in June 2016 at Makana Resort.
The department believes the court sentence will send a strong message and hopefully act as a deterrent to poachers and would be poachers. The court sentence comes at a time when the government is stepping up measures to combat rhino poaching.
This includes the return of South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to monitor the 350km of national border in Kruger and other country borders and the deployment of conservation specialists at ports through which the international trade in endangered species can be monitored.
“The Integrated Strategic Management Approach is among the instruments being implemented through a collaborative approach between the Departments of Environmental Affairs, Justice, Police and Defence, among others, to combat rhino poaching. It is an approach that is now being implemented in all provinces where rhino poaching has increased in recent years and is delivering the required results,” said the minister, Nomvula Mokonyane.
“This approach is constantly being reviewed, amended and updated to meet changing needs as poachers amend their modus operandi in an effort to escape capture. We are elated that the arrest of this gang, in particular, has yielded the outcome we wanted.”
The Department and SANParks are also beefing up patrols in the KNP by deploying an additional 150 rangers. There are also ongoing bilateral engagements between South Africa and Mozambique to deal with the cross-border law enforcement issues and processes.