By Staff Reporter
GIYANI-Two notorious rhino-poaching members have just been hit with jail sentences.
Two brothers, Gideon and Nicolaas van Deventer, have been sentenced to 10 and 15 years imprisonment respectively, after they pleaded guilty to rhino poaching-related charges.
Nicolaas, 56, and Gideon, 53, appeared in the Giyani Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, where their sentences were handed down.
According to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the brothers pleaded guilty to several charges, including: Conspiracy to hunt rhinos; Illegal hunting and dehorning a rhino bull;
Possession of rhino horns; Selling rhino horns; and Trespassing.
They were arrested on 6 January 2017 for crimes they committed between December 2016 and January 2017.
“On the day of their arrest, they were found tossing a rhino horn from the window of their speeding bakkie, while being pursued by police along the Vivo and Makhado Roads in Limpopo,” NPA spokesperson Mashudu Malabi Dzhangi said.
The accused have been in custody since their arrest more than five years ago.
During sentencing proceedings, the State prosecutor, advocate Norman Makuvele, called Mario Scholtz of SanParks, who testified about rhino poaching and its economic impact.
In aggravation of sentence, Scholtz told the court how poachers, such as the Van Deventer brothers, were the reason for the waning rhino population.
He explained that the rate of rhinos poached had overtaken the reproduction rate of the endangered species.
“Advocate Makuvele told the court that the duo first made the headlines in KwaZulu-Natal 10 years ago when they were caught poaching rhinos in the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Park and again for possession of rhino horns in the Bela Bela area in Limpopo,” Dzhangi said.
“Several adult rhinos and calves were shot indiscriminately and left to die.”
Makuvele asked the court to sentence the accused to a long period of imprisonment because of their numerous previous convictions, most of which relate to environmental issues and rhino poaching in South Africa.
“The NPA welcomes the sentence and hopes that the sentence will deter other would-be offenders, and applauds the good investigative work of the South African Police Service,” Dzhangi said.