Six rhino poaching suspects in court today

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Six suspects aged between 25 and 30 apprehended during a well-coordinated, multi-discipline crime fighting operation appeared in the Grahamstown Magistrate’s Court today, 3 August 2018, on charges of conspiracy to commit a crime, possession of unlicensed firearms and possession of ammunition.

The suspects were arrested on 31 July 2018 around 4pm during a joint operation dubbed Operation Full Moon 2km outside Grahamstown on the N2 towards Peddie, Police spokesperson Captain Khaya Tonjeni said.

The suspects’ vehicles were stopped and during a search of the vehicles a 9.5mm-calibre rifle, nine rounds of ammunition and a large sum of money, two knives, two axes and nine cellphones were confiscated from both vehicles.

“All the suspects are Zimbabwean nationals and the investigation continues to ascertain if they cannot be linked to other rhino poaching incidents in the province and/ or country,” Thonjeni said.

Eastern Cape SAPS Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant-General Liziwe Ntshinga commended all the members involved in the operation.

“Significant progress had been made by specialist detectives assigned to tracking down rhino poaching syndicates. Our benchmark case of the Ndlovus has resumed in the Grahamstown High Court and the suspects linked and arrested to the poaching incident at Wildschutsberg Game Reserve in the Stormberg mountain range near Komani (formerly Queenstown) are appearing in court again today. This is an indication that we are committed in turning the tide on illegal wildlife trade,” said Ntshinga.

Operation Full Moon is a synchronised operation comprising the provincial Stock Theft Unit and Hawks, Grahamstown Highway Patrol and private anti rhino poaching units, aimed at combating crimes such as stock theft and illegal movement of stock and the protection of endangered species.

“Our efforts to track, trace and arrest suspects involved in illegal wildlife trade and wildlife crimes have intensified and are bearing dividends,” Tonjeni said.

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