7 in court for attempted poaching

The five suspects from South Africa are all Steilloop residents

BULGERIVIER — Seven suspects – five SA citizens and two Mozambican citizens – were arrested on Monday 31 July after Bulgerivier SAPS received information from the station commander of Vaalwater SAPS that seven unknown men were travelling towards Bulgerivier.
The information provided stated that the suspects were travelling in a white Toyota bakkie and a white Toyota Corolla and that they may possibly be in possession of a firearm and other equipment that can be used for rhino poaching.
Members of Welgevonden Security, game rangers and members of SAPS Bulgerivier investigated the information and it was found that both vehicles and three suspects were in the Bulgerivier area.
According to Warrant Officer Frans Mokoena, Lephalale SAPS spokesperson, the vehicles were stopped and searched but, except for an axe in the Corolla, nothing was found.
Mokoena says during interrogation of the suspects, information was received that four suspects were already on the game farm where they planned to poach rhinos.
A cell phone of one of the suspects was used to contact these four suspects and security members travelled with the three suspects in the Toyota bakkie to pick-up the suspects.
Mokoena says the bakkie stopped close to the gate of the game farm, then two men approached the bakkie because they only saw their co-suspects in the bakkie. They were arrested on the scene.
These two suspects pointed out one .375 hunting rifle and an axe at the gate next to the road. They also pointed out a firearm silencer at another location.
Further investigations led to the arrest of another two suspects (locals that were used to get info from the designated game farm). Mokoena says it was found that the serial number of the .375 firearm was removed.
The case was handed over to the Limpopo Endangered Species Unit for further investigation.
All suspects appeared in the Lephalale Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday 1 August on charges of obstruction of the environment management act, the unlawful hunting of protected wild animals and for being in unlawful possession of a firearm without license or permit as well as ammunition.
The suspects are Andries Modimola (48), Ernesto Novela (52), Jonas Modimola (33), Jose Maluleke (30), Petrus Mashele (58), Phillemon Tshehlo (35) and Thabang Tshehlo (22).

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