Three rhino poachers were yesterday sentenced to 105 years in prison by the Skukuza Regional Court, for rhino poaching and related offences. The South African National Parks (SANParks) today, 3 September, welcomed the sentencing.
The three poachers were arrested in 2017 after killing three rhinos in Marula (southern) section of the Kruger National Park. SANParks said in a statement today that one of the convicted poachers, Walter Hendrik Mangane (58), is South African; whilst the other two – Shangani Mathebula (29) and Emmanuel Mdhluli (32) – are from Mozambique.
In delivering the sentences, the magistrate explained in detail how the poachers had killed the three rhinos execution style, and how they had been caught red-handed while “plundering” the animals.
According to the SANParks’ statement, the magistrate asked Mangane to “mend his ways” as he has accumulated multiple cases over the past decade in the KNP and as the eldest of the three at 58, he was having a negative influence on the youth and communities.
In response to the sentences, KNP’s Managing Executive, Gareth Coleman congratulated the Environmental Crime Investigative Unit and Ranger Services for working closely with the Investigating Officer and the other South African Police Service Units to bring solid evidence before the court.
Coleman commended the Prosecuting Team for a stellar job in arguing for a stiff sentence and thanked the Rangers, Air Services and K9 Units for their swift reaction in apprehending the accused and ensuring that justice has been served. Coleman said:
“These sentences should serve as a deterrent to those intending to come and kill our natural heritage and destroying the livelihoods of our people. We have in the past few months intensified our security efforts in the Park to good effect but successful convictions requires that the prosecutorial and justice pillars in our society are operating effectively. These sentences will motivate the teams who work tirelessly day and night to protect our fauna and flora.”