All photos: SAPS

LEPHALALE – Wealthy Limpopo game farmer and illegal rhino poacher – Freitas Antonio Xavier (57) – has been sentenced by the Lephalale Regional Court to a R1-million fine or 10 years imprisonment.

All photos: SAPS

The Provincial Commissioner of the South African Police Service (SAPS) in Limpopo, Lieutenant General Nneke Ledwaba, said he is “elated” by the sentence meted out on Monday 7 May 2018.

The sentence comes from a January 2017 case investigated by the SAPS’¬†Endangered Species Unit.

SAPS said in a media statement that it was thanks to “the meticulous detective work” carried out by this unit that ensured the accused ended up pleading guilty to the charges.

Eight rhino feet were found in a cold room on the accused’s farm.

Before apprehending the gamer farmer, SAPS said the investigating team had been led to the scene at his farm in a well-coordinated operation.

On arrival, they recovered the following:

  • eight (8) rhino feet in a cold room
  • seven (7) carcasses in a cold room
  • one (1) decomposed rhino carcass
  • two (2) rhino hides (skins) and some bones dug from the ground at the same farm.
  • two (2) rhino heads in a cold room

Xavier was convicted and sentenced on charges of the hunting of specially protected animals without permit, possession/donation of rhino parts without permit and selling of rhino meat without permit.

The Provincial Commissioner has commended all members who were involved in these investigations and urged them to leave no stone unturned until all those who received the rhino horns are also arrested.

The police are still following up on the information that a helicopter was seen in the vicinity which raised the suspicion that the rhino horns might have been taken to other destinations.

Anyone with information is requested to contact Warrant Officer Johannes Jurgengs van Heerden at 0828144300.