Rhino poachers sentenced to more than 500 years

The Eastern Cape Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant General Liziwe Ntshinga has welcomed the hefty sentence imposed on three suspects charged for more than 55 counts of rhino poaching between the years 2013 and 2016.

A team of investigators under the leadership of Capt Morne Viljoen investigated the case which led to the conviction of the trio in March 2019. Forget Ndlovu (43), Jabulani Ndlovu, 41 and Sikhumbuzo Ndlovu, 40 were sentenced by the Grahamstown High Court today. The three accused were found guilty on all 55 separate counts and the shortest sentence handed down being 5 years and the longest being 15 years. All the sentences will run concurrently which means that each of the suspects will serve 25 years imprisonment.

The South African Police Service made a major breakthrough in curbing Rhino Poaching when they arrested the three suspects in June 2016 at about 22:00 at chalet 8, Makana Resort, Grahamstown. The arrest was the direct result of Operation Full Moon, which mainly focused on curbing rhino poaching incidents in the Province. The suspects were identified as the grouping and were linked to the poaching of a rhino at Buckland’s Private Game Reserve. The rhino was last seen alive on 17 June 2016 at about 09:30. It is suspected that the rhino was darted. The suspects at the time of arrest could possibly be linked to 10 rhino poaching incidents in the Eastern Cape as well as Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal.

The following items were recovered during the arrest;

• One (1) 72 cm rhino horn which had been freshly harvested, estimated at approximately R1.2 million;

• One (1) darting rifle;

• Saws and knives;

• Drugs used to dart animals;

• Various darts and percussion caps;

• A variety of camping gear and rations;

• Several cellphones;

• Two (2) rental vehicles rented by the suspects were seized.

Lieutenant General Ntshinga has welcomed the 500 years imprisonment imposed on the Ndlovu trio. She also congratulated the meticulous and professional investigation by the team of investigators and the collaboration between SAPS and NPA which led to the lengthy prison term. “The sentence is the outcome of the SAPS’s unwavering commitment in the fight against wildlife crimes which are interlinked to organized crime. The diligence of the investigators and other specialized disciplines of the SAPS together with the NPA did not go unnoticed in this landmark case,” she said.

“I am also elated that the three suspects were stopped on their tracks by the Eastern Cape investigators after being linked to more than 10 rhino poaching incidents across the country at the time of their arrest. Since their arrest, Eastern Cape has not had an incident of rhino poaching where a rhino is darted. We will continue to arrest and break the backbone of rhino poaching incidents in the province as we have many other suspects appearing in different courts for similar cases,” she concluded.