A government driven anti-poaching team closed the net on twenty seven suspects over the past week, affecting their arrests during operations in KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo.
The arrests are a result of intelligence driven operations by the Rhino 9 Team which includes members from the police, Hawks, Customs the South African National Defence Force and SANParks Game Rangers, police said.
Eight of the suspects arrested were wanted for murder and attempted murder in Pietermaritzburg, while others were arrested in Hluhluwe, Acornhoek and Phalaborwa.
Police spokesperson Lieutenent Colonel Katlego Mogale said that during the operations, the team also recovered six unlicensed firearms, rhino horn, three silencers, ammunition and remains of known endangered species.
“Some of the suspects have appeared before various courts in the various provinces and their cases postponed for further investigations while they remain in custody,” said Mogale.
“They face charges relating to immigration transgressions, murder, attempted murder, unlawful possession of firearm, unlawful possession of ammunition, possession of dangerous weapon/s, and trespassing.”
Police also opened an inquiry after bones of what is suspected to be a lion were discovered in Phalaborwa.
Mogale said the arrests should serve as warning and deterrent to other potential poachers that their chances of success in poaching are continuously being reduced.
“Poachers are warned that over and above facing criminal prosecution, the law will come after their ill-gotten gains in terms of the POCA (Prevention of Organised Crime Act 121/1998).”