The Skukuza Regional Court has sentenced Mbongeni Selephi Ngobeni (28), to 17 years of direct imprisonment for poaching-related offences. This is after the accused was convicted of trespassing in the park, killing a rhino, conspiracy to commit a crime, possession of an axe, and possession of a firearm and ammunition. On 21 June 2016, rangers of Pretoriuskop Section in Skukuza National Park were patrolling when they found a freshly killed rhino with its horns removed. Rangers started following tracks until they found three suspects, including Ngobeni. One of them ran into a dam with crocodiles and was devoured to death while the other managed to escape.

Rangers took the accused to the point where they were initially spotted. A hunting rifle, ammunition, an axe, and fresh rhino horns were found. In court, the state proved its case beyond reasonable doubt. State Prosecutor Lot Mgiba, led evidence of DNA which proved that the horns found in the accused were for the rhino carcass found on the scene. The state further led evidence of the bullet found in the carcass to show that it was fired from the same rifle found in Ngobeni’s possession. The accused was sentenced to seventeen years of direct imprisonment and the court declared him unfit to possess a firearm in terms of the Firearms Control Act 60 of 2000.

The National Prosecuting Authority welcomes the sentence and commends the work done by the prosecution and police. Sentences of this nature are indicative of our commitment and dedication to fighting crime against rhino poaching.

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