Over 100 alleged poachers in court

Senior state prosecutor Adv Ansie Venter.

MBOMBELA – More than 100 accused appeared simultaneously in the Nelspruit Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.

Witnesses, the accused and councils in 34 cases crammed into two courtrooms.

Read more here: “Mishap” causes absence of five accused in poaching case

The accused face various charges. These include killing an endangered species, conspiracy to poach, possessing illegal firearms, trespassing and various charges related to organised crime.

Senior state prosecutor, Adv Ansie Venter, stated that the escalation in the number of cases being prosecuted was the reason the state requested that all be heard simultaneously.

The court was cleared for safety reasons and to allow all the accused in custody to be dealt with, after which those out on bail appeared.

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Court president, Ms Naomi Engelbrecht, had instructed that all rhino-poaching and related cases be transferred to the Lydenburg Magistrate’s Court for magistrate, Dr André Lambrecht, to preside over. “There was dissatisfaction among lawyers and their clients for the matters to preside there due to distance and costs,” Venter explained.

She said Engelbrecht was awaiting a final decision on where the cases would be heard. This will be made during a meeting between the departments of public prosecutions and justice on Monday.

Venter requested that all cases be postponed until September 30.

The exception was the case against Mr Big Joe Nyalungu and his co-accused which has been ongoing for five years. Venter requested that it be postponed until October 27.

Magistrate, Ms Vanessa Joubert, also changed Nyalungu’s bail conditions. He now only has to report to the Mkhulu Police Station on Saturdays as he has found employment at a paper factory in Mbombela. He is out on R30 000 bail.


Tereasa Dias

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