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Alleged rhino poacher asked to help racketeering probe

Publish date: 04 September 2012
Issue Number: 277
Diary: Legalbrief Environmental
Category: General

The Eastern Cape High Court (Port Elizabeth) has heard that police approached an alleged rhino poacher and offered to help his case go away if he helped them with their massive racketeering investigation against Peter Roberts, says a report in The Herald.

It add Roberts dismissed the massive racketeering case against him as a web of wrong assumptions, manipulation and evidence by 'spineless' traitors. Taking the stand to testify in his own defence, Roberts denied allegations he was running a highly-successful abalone syndicate. He told the court the police had misinterpreted months of tapped phone conversations and that he was mostly referring to fish when he was speaking about transactions and deliveries. He added that his friend, Terence Clarence, who was under investigation for the illegal possession of rhino horn, was approached by investigating officer Hans Smith, who said he would help Clarence with his case if Clarence helped him with the case against Roberts. The report adds Roberts, his wife Carolina, Jonathan Nel, Bruce Burstein and Johan Nel have all pleaded not guilty to two charges of racketeering and seven of the illegal harvesting, keeping, transporting and possession of abalone. Full report in The Herald (subscription needed)

Still on poaching matters: Three suspected rhino poachers were killed in the past week, according SANParks. A report in The Citizen quoting spokesperson Reynold Thakhuli said a fourth poacher was injured and three others arrested. One poacher was killed in the Kruger National Park when rangers came into contact with his group. A firearm was confiscated and rhino horns were recovered. Later on the same day, another three people were arrested for rhino poaching in the lower Sabie section of the KNP. A firearm and an axe were recovered. Rangers were following up on the case when they came across another group of suspected poachers. One man was wounded and two were killed. A firearm and two axes were seized, the report says. Full report in The Citizen

Two rhino poachers have received stiff sentences. Gearson Cosa (35) and Ali Nkuna (25) have been jailed for 29 years each for rhino poaching in the Kruger National Park by Magistrate Catherine Hugo of the Nelspruit Magistrate's Court, says a report on the IoL site. They were found guilty of trespassing, being in possession of hunting rifles and ammunition, and poaching a rhino and its calf. Cosa received an additional three months for being in the country illegally. The court ruled the crime was a well-planned exercise with the aim to hunt rhinos for their horns. Full report on the IoL site

The WWF has launched a new anti-poaching campaign. Record poaching rates have prompted the World Wide Fund for Nature's (WWF's) international office to launch a global campaign last week calling on governments to combat illegal wildlife and wildlife parts trade. A BDlive report notes that, in SA, the most visible illegal wildlife parts trade is in rhino horn. WWF-International and wildlife trade-tracking organisation Traffic had joined forces on the global illegal wildlife trade campaign, which focused on species under 'intense threat from poaching that is being driven by international trade due to the recent surge in demand from Asian consumer markets', the report quotes WWF-International spokesperson Alona Rivord as saying. 'Our campaign seeks not only to catalyse meaningful conservation change for rhinos, tigers and elephants, but also to raise the profile of the issue so that governments globally treat it with the level of seriousness it deserves. That applies to all species, not just rhinos, tigers and elephants. We hope that by profiling the plight of these three species - and that of the heroes putting their lives on the line to protect them - that there will be additional long-term benefits to other species as well,' she said. Full BDlive report