Two Mozambican poachers sentenced to 22 years in jail
South African National Parks today welcomed the sentences handed down by the Skukuza regional court to two Mozambican nationals who have been convicted of rhino poaching in the Kruger National Park (KNP).
Lucky Shihlangu (33) and Sergio Mathebula (32) were found guilty and sentenced to a total of 22 years in jail each, but they will serve 18 years effectively. They faced six charges related and were found guilty on all six charges.
Field rangers in the Malalane section of the KNP arrested the two on 21 September last year. Rangers began searching for the pair after shots were heard and a fresh rhino carcass had been discovered nearby. The pursuit of the suspects resulted in the two convicted poachers being apprehended. They were found in possession of a heavy-calibre hunting rifle, live ammunition, and two fresh rhino horns.
The state led evidence that linked the rifle and the horns to the carcass that had been discovered nearby.
“We are glad to have removed a pair of criminals and poaching equipment from the system,” says Oscar Mthimkhulu, KNP managing executive, congratulating all who had played a role in the arrest and conviction.
“We know there are big role players who still need to come to trial and hope they too will face the might of the law like their ground troops. The collaboration between all law-enforcement agencies is important for us to get on top of the situation. The recent arrests, convictions and sentences should serve as a warning to criminals that we are serious about protecting our natural heritage and will continue in memory of our colleagues who paid the ultimate price in their work.”
The Skukuza regional court has had a 100-percent conviction rate since the beginning of the year.