The Mogwase Regional Court handed over a hefty jail term to Arlendo Mhlanga, Adam Hlongwane and Inancio Chauke on charges related to rhino poaching at the Pilansberg Game Reserve in the North West.
The trio, who are from Mozambique, were arrested on 02 July 2018 trying to leave the game reserve in a white Ford bakkie loaded with stolen rhino horns valued at R1,5 million. Subsequent to their arrest, they applied for bail and it was denied. They remained in police custody until the completion of the trial.
Mhlanga and his co-accused were charged on three counts of illegally killing three female rhinos, possession of a prohibited firearm, possession of ammunition, possession of six rhino horns, chopping six rhino horns from three rhino carcasses, intentionally and unlawfully conveying six rhino horns, theft of three rhino horns and also charged for entering the heritage site without written permission.
From the ten (10) charges they were facing, the court sentenced them to a cumulative 85 years imprisonment, however it ordered for some sentences to run concurrently. Mhlanga and his co-accused will then spend an effective 35 years in prison for the crimes they committed. The court also declared them unfit to possess firearms. The Ford bakkie and other items that were in their possession are also forfeited to the state.
In aggravation of sentence, Advocate Douw Jacobs urged the court to consider the evidence submitted by conservation experts on the extinction of the rhino population and its impact. He argued that rhino pouching impacts negatively to the tourism industry and the economy of the country as it results in job losses.