1 August 2016: Police members deployed by the South African Police Service (SAPS) to work with SANParks as part of Operation Rhino have arrested five suspects for possession of unlicensed firearms in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga during last week.

In the first instance a team comprising of police detectives and forensic specialists together with SANPark rangers arrested 35-year-old Rodney Landela, a SANParks regional ranger, and Kenneth Muchacho, 44 years old, a Vet deployed at SANPark by the Department of Agriculture, for possession of two rhino horns and possession of a firearm and ammunition. The two men were arrested on 27 July 2016 in the Satara section of the Kruger National Park. They have already appeared in the Bushbuckridge Magistrate’s Court and their case has been postponed to next week Thursday for bail application.

Apart from the rifle, 17 rounds of ammunition and two rhino horns were found in the men’s possession, the police also confiscated four cellular phones, an axe and three Garmin Navigators.

And elsewhere in KwaZulu-Natal, another Operation Team comprising of the Tactical Response Team, Crime Intelligence Unit and the National Intervention Unit arrested three suspects for possession of unlicensed firearm in the Dukuduku area of the province. The three, whose vehicle, seven cellular phones, axe and silencer were taken, are due to appear in the Mtubatuba Magistrate’s Court today.

Operation Rhino is a continuous intervention by the SAPS, together with its partners such as the South African National Parks and the Defence force, aimed at bringing to book illegal hunters of rhino and other endangered species within our parks.

The SAPS is encouraged by these arrests and the lengthy prison sentences that are being handed by the courts as this will serve as the necessary deterrents to other potential poachers.