An appeal against the judgement of a Magistrate Court against the accused for excessive conviction for unlawful hunting of rhinos and insufficient evidence to sustain conviction. The appeal was dismissed as lacking merit and the decision of the Magistrate Court affirmed.
The appellants, all first offenders, were charged with hunting elephant and rhinoceros. They were charged on the 31 October 1986 for selling two pairs of rhinoceros horns without permit. They were convicted on prohibited dealing in trophies and sentenced to three years imprisonment based on the section they were charged under.
The appellants were convicted own their pleas of conspiring to commit an offence of illegal hunting of a rhinoceros, and unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition in the magistrate court. They were sentenced to 5 years imprisonment each for count 1 and 4 years imprisonment each for count 3.
Accused persons were found guilty of unlawful possession of 2 horns in contravention of the Game Act. The Act prescribes that a person found guilty of the offence must either replace the game or compensate the full value of the property to the owner or government in cases where the owner cannot be established.
The accused were previously convicted on various counts, by the same court and the matter came for sentencing on a later date. The Criminal Law Amendment Act 105 of 1977, prescribes a discretionary minimum sentence of 15 years imprisonment per count for amounts of more than R500 000; for the ten counts on theft of rhino horns.
The appellant was found to have been complicit in the transaction where a fake rhino horn was sold in a police trap for R350 000. He was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment. The appellant unsuccessfully appealed to the Free State High Court against his conviction and sentence.
On 17 – 18 June 2016 at Bucklands Farm, in the district of Albany, in the course of which a white rhino known as Cambell, belonging to one Ian Steward, was darted with a tranquilizer gun and its horn removed, resulting in the death of the rhino. The police were working on Operation Full Moon as Rhino poaching was rife.
This a criminal appeal against the decision of the magistrate court in terms of which the appellant was convicted of contravening s 17(2) of the Wildlife Conservation and National Parks Act 1992 (No. 28 of 1992) and was sentenced to 8 years imprisonment.