Heavy prison sentence for man who helps poach rhinos in Kruger National Park

Henry

A poacher who poached two white rhinoceros with an accomplice in the Kruger National Park for their horns almost four years ago was sentenced to an effective 16 years in prison at the Skukuza Regional Court on Friday.

Col. Donald Mdhluli, police spokesperson, says Million Masilane (48) entered the Kruger National Park with an unlicensed firearm in March 2020 with his accomplice, Lot Baloyi, after which they stripped two white rhinos for their horns.

“However, rangers from SANParks realized there were trespassers in the park and chased the two men.

“Baloyi apparently tried to frighten the rangers – who were on their trail – by firing a few shots in their direction. The rangers did not give up and eventually caught both suspects,” says Mdhluli.

An unlicensed firearm and rhino horns were found at the scene. The rangers immediately informed the police on Skukuza after which Masilane was arrested together with his alleged accomplice for rhino poaching-related offences.

“The two later appeared in court where both were granted bail. However, they did not comply with their bail conditions and went on the run, after which the court issued warrants for their arrest.”

Mdhluli says the police in Skukuza’s hard work paid off in October last year when they caught Masilane in the Calcutta area.

Masilane was found guilty on Friday of eight charges, including trespassing into a national park, rhino poaching, possession of an unlicensed firearm and conspiracy to commit a crime.

Some of the sentences are to be served concurrently. Masilane was therefore sentenced to an effective prison sentence of 16 years and was declared incompetent to own a firearm.

Lt. Gen. Semakaleng Daphney Manamela, provincial police chief in Mpumalanga, welcomed the heavy prison sentence and expressed her appreciation to the rangers of SANParks, the investigation team, the prosecution team and the judiciary.