The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) welcomes the lengthy prison sentences handed down to three rhino poachers on Friday, 3 September 2021. The matter was heard in the Skukuza Regional Court, which reopened in April 2021, and operates within the Kruger National Park.
The Court handed down a combined 105-year sentence to the three poachers.
The IFP would like to compliment all those involved – the rangers, the members of the Skukuza Stock Theft and Endangered Species Unit, the Skukuza Regional Court prosecutors and other court officials – for their excellent work to bring those who brutally kill our endangered animals to justice.
The IFP have long called for – and been in favour of – specialised courts, such as the Skukuza Regional Court, which has a special focus on poaching-related cases. We are also in favour of lengthy sentences, which will hopefully act as a deterrent to poachers.
The IFP will continue to champion any efforts to safeguard and preserve our precious natural heritage – including our endangered species, such as rhino. We will continue to hold Minister Creecy accountable, particularly via written questions.
We were disappointed to hear that her Department has ‘passed the buck’ and were unable to advise us how many poachers were ‘repeat offenders’, saying that information falls under the purview of SAPS.
However, her responses as regards the Department’s steps to address rhino poaching were more encouraging. These include “seven integrated wildlife zones across the country”, “sharing of real-time information…to react quickly”, as well as the dehorning of rhinos. The IFP will further be closely monitoring the work of the Environmental Enforcement Fusion Centre, developed to boost anti-poaching at a tactical level.
We trust that these measures will enable the Department – as per the Minister’s response – “to gather, analyse and share intelligence on wildlife trafficking so that international syndicate-related crimes can be dealt with effectively.”