Bail for the Ndlovu rhino-poaching trio was denied in the High Court in Port Elizabeth on Thursday 31 October. Jabulani Ndlovu, Forget Ndlovu and Sibusiso Ndlovu were in April this year sentenced to 25 years imprisonment each for 10 rhino poaching incidents around Makhanda, as well as in Jansenville, Graaff Reinet and Cradock.
In July the Supreme Court of Appeal gave them leave to appeal against their convictions and sentences. Their appeal against their convictions related to the admissibility of certain items found in their possession. Their appeal against their sentences was on the basis that a Full Bench “may find their sentence shockingly inappropriate”.
The men then applied to be released on bail pending the outcome of their appeal hearing.
The men, through Advocate Terry Price, had argued that being jailed prevented them from continuing to make a living outside prison, so they could support their families.
Jabulani Ndlovu said were he released, he could continue his business of exporting goods to Zimbabwe. He has five children and his second wife, a lawyer employed by a well known financial institution, was fired after he was convicted.
Judge Elna Revelas on Thursday dismissed the men’s bail application. The Judge said she’d carefully read through the “thoroughly reasoned” judgment of Pickering and did not believe the success of their appeal was assured. She also said while the men had adhered to their bail conditions during their trial, this was less likely now they knew the severity of the sentence they face. All three, who have family ties in Zimbabwe, could easily leave South Africa’s borders.
In the High Court in Makhanda, Justice Jeremy Pickering had dismissed their application for leave to appeal. He was scathing in his April 2019 judgment. He spoke about the horrific trauma inflicted on the animals and the men’s lack of remorse,
In explaining the severity of the sentence, said over the three years in which the 10 incidents had occurred, the men had had plenty of time to reflect on their actions and stop.
“Despite all of them being self supporting, they did not do so,” Judge Pickering said. “They were clearly motivated by greed and financial gain.”
Pickering viewed it as particularly aggravating that Forget was a qualified field guide. He had participated in committing the offences, while professing to love wildlife, the Judge said.
The incidents were among 13 originally on the charge sheet. Charges relating to incidents at Pumba and Sibuya game reserves were separated. During the Ndlovus’ three-year poaching spree, between 2013 and 2016, at least 10 rhinos died and 17 rhino horns were removed. Jabulani and Sibusiso were convicted and sentenced for all 10 incidents, Forget, for nine.
Grocott’s Mail understands that while a date for the appeal hearing was set for February 2020, their Counsel, Price, may only be available much later in the year.