PRETORIA, August 19 – The South African Police Service’s (SAPS) rhino 08 poaching task team responsible for combating wildlife crimes throughout the country arrested five men, including a police officer, in two separate incidents and recovered several incriminating items in the past week, the SAPS said on Saturday.
Last Saturday, the team was alerted to suspected poachers trying to exit the east gate of a game farm in Limpopo, the SAPS said in a statement posted on its official Facebook page.
“When they [SAPS] arrived at the said gate they found Captain Chris du Plessis trying to escort three men – Martinus Jacobus Boschoff, 32, Magiel Frederick Klopper, 61, and Joseph Mkhokha, 42 – who had allegedly poached a giraffe.
“The team questioned the captain and on searching his vehicle they found one unlicensed revolver, 1 x 270 rifle barrel, one wooden rifle butt, approximately 70 rifle rounds, and a 303 cartridge,” the statement said.
The three suspects were found in possession of a 303 hunting rifle, a silencer, a telescope, and more than ten 303 rounds. The licence for the 303 hunting rifle was confiscated. The Isuzu bakkie they were travelling in was also confiscated.
All three suspects appeared in the Hoedspruit Magistrate’s Court this week on a charge of “removal or movement of any controlled animal or thing across land in a controlled area without a permit”. They were expected to again appear in court on August 28, and were all released on bail of R800 each.
The police captain also appeared in the Hoedspruit court on Monday, as well as on Thursday, and has been remanded in custody until August 28 for a formal bail application.
“In the meantime, following the arrests on 12 August 2017, the team was led to a game reserve this past Thursday where they arrested the fifth suspect, a 68-year-old farm manager Samuel Liversage.
“The farm was searched and 10 rhino horns, two elephant tasks, 11 rifles of which four are unlicensed, over 1300 rounds of live ammunition, and over 150 empty cartridges were recovered. All 11 rifles were confiscated to be taken for ballistic testing.”
This suspect appeared in the Lenyenye Magistrate’s Court in the Tzaneen area in Limpopo on Friday and was remanded in custody until August 24 for a bail application, the statement said.