Rhino poachers jailed for 18 years sentence

LIMPOPO –  The Modimolle Regional Court recently sentenced Sakkie Marutle Malaza (36) and Manabeng Michael Makua (64) to an effective 18 years imprisonment. They were convicted for the unlawful possession of firearm without a licence, the unlawful possession of ammunition and the illegal hunting of protected animals.

On 27 February 2013 the SAPS reacted to information of a possible rhino poaching incident at Mabalingwe Game Farm in the Bela Bela district. The police officers spotted Malaza and two others entering Mabalingwe through a fence. They approached and arrested Malaza while the other two escaped, leaving behind an axe and a 300 rifle. Makua, who was a driver of a vehicle, was later arrested in Modimolle following police investigations.
Police also recovered 62 x 7.62 rounds of ammunition in Makua’s Boschkop house near Pretoria.

Makua alleged during the trial that he had kept ammunition on behalf of Malaza. He denied being part of the group of poachers who attacked the farm saying he has been framed by the police. The court rejected the version that they were framed and based on
the principle of common purpose, both were convicted.

During sentencing, the State Prosecutor Liezel del Frate asked the court to disqualify both from obtaining any permits or authorizations in terms of the Limpopo Environmental Management Act (LEMA) and also to possess a firearm.

The court sentenced them to an effective term of 18 years imprisonment and the sentence on the count of the possession of a firearm without a licence was ordered to run concurrently with the sentence on the count of iIllegal hunting.

Both accused were barred for five years from obtaining any permits or authorizations in terms of LEMA and were also declared unfit to possess firearm.The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) welcomed the sentence and the Director of Public Prosecution in Limpopo, Advocate Ivy Thenga applauded the SAPS Tactical Response, Stock Theft Unit and the prosecutor for the good work.

Nelie Erasmus

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