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Media Release: SANParks welcomes the conviction of two poachers and their sentencing to a combined 58 years

Date: 2012-08-31

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South African National Parks (SANParks) welcomes the successful conviction of two suspected rhino poachers who appeared in the Nelspruit Regional Court today (Friday, 31 August 2012). We also welcome the stiff sentences imposed i.e. to an effective 29 years each.

This conviction involves a Mozambican citizen, Ali Cossa, aged 35, and a South African, Gerson Nkuna, aged 25. These two suspects were arrested in June last year at the Nwanetsi Section of the Kruger National Park after the poaching of a rhino cow and calf.

The two suspects were found guilty of the illegal hunting of two rhinos (a cow and a calf) and sentenced to 10 years each for the killing of a cow, and another 10 years each for the killing of the calf. They were further sentenced to an effective four (4) years each on charges of possession of illegal fire arms and two (2) years for illegal possession of ammunition and three (3) years each for trespassing. Cossa of Mozambique received a further 3 months sentencing for being an undocumented migrant in the country.

The two are effectively sentenced to 29 years each behind bars without the option of a fine. 

According to Paul Daphne, spokesperson for SANParks, "the organisation is extremely happy with the conviction and sentencing of these destroyers of the country's heritage".

He said given the fact that a maximum sentence for illegal hunting of rhino under the Protected Areas Act is still only five years ... "we welcome the effective 29 year sentence handed down to each suspect and hope that this will be a deterrent to other would be poachers. It is a clear message that the crime of rhino poaching does not pay."

He said SANParks and the entire conservation fraternity is elated that the courts now recognise the need to include charges relating to restricted activities under the Biodiversity Act, which imposes a maximum sentence of ten years. "The last time a ten year imprisonment was handed down was when a Vietnamese man was caught trying to smuggle 18kg of rhino horn from the OR Tambo International Airport in July 2010."

Issued by:
Reynold Thakhuli
GM: Media Liaison & Stakeholder Relations
Tel: 012 426 5203, Cell: 073 373 4999

Media enquiries:
Paul Daphne
Acting Head of Communications
Tel: 012 426 5198, Cell: 082 806 5409


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