Suspected poachers appear in court

Five men have appeared in the Brits Magistrates Court in connection with rhino poaching.

JOHANNESBURG - Five men believed to be linked to a poaching syndicate, which has left 19 rhino dead in the North West, have been granted bail in the Brits Magistrates Court.

The five were granted R10,000 bail, but only one could afford to pay.

They are part of a group of eight men arrested for a wave of poaching that has hit private game reserves in the province over the past two months.

The Hawks spokesperson Paul Ramaloko said, “Four suspects are still in custody because they could not afford the bail. The case was postponed to 14 December.”

Meanwhile, a game farm owner whose reserve has been targeted by rhino poachers says he plans to increase security following the release of a suspected poacher.

Eight rhino cows were killed on the Finfoot Lake Reserve in November.

Owner, Miles Lapperman, said they are using all their resources to protect the rhino left on the farm.

“This is what is allowed by South African law and this is the best that they could do. I don’t want to point any fingers. We just have to be extra vigilant with this guy back on the streets.”

Over 500 rhino have been poached since the beginning of 2012.

In November, a Thai rhino poaching ring-leader was sentenced to 40 years by the Kempton Park Magistrates Court, but this has not deterred poachers.

Chumlong Lemtongthai pleaded guilty to organising bogus trophy hunts to sell rhino horns on the international black market.

The sentence was welcomed by several anti-poaching groups.

There is a huge demand for rhino horns in some Asian countries because of the belief that they can cure anything.

 (Edited by Lindiwe Mlandu)