The Acting Provincial Commissioner of the SAPS in Mpumalanga, Major General Zeph Mkhwanazi has gladly welcomed the sentences handed down to two brothers, Arshandi Zitha (34) and Peter Zitha (30) on charges related to poaching at the Kruger National Park.
The two men were sentenced by the Skukuza Regional Court on Thursday 2 March 2023.
The court heard how on 18 July 2022 three individuals entered Kingfisher Section in the Kruger National Park. It is said that their mission was disturbed when field rangers that were on duty patrolling at the park on that day suspected that there could be intruders inside the park.
The field rangers began their search for these individuals. A helicopter was also summoned to assist in tracing. Two out of the three were cornered meanwhile the third man varnished into thin air.
During their capture, the two brothers were found with a hunting rifle without a licence, three live ammunition, three bags, a knife and an axe in their possession.
The Police at Skukuza were also informed about the incident and upon arrival, they arrested as well as charged the two accused persons accordingly.
It was also discovered that the two brothers were from Mozambique but without valid documentation to be in South Africa. Further than that, the two entered the park without permits. After their arrest, the two were taken to court and they both pleaded guilty hence their sentencing as follows:
* On count 1 (Trespassing in a National Park), the two accused were sentenced to 2 years imprisonment.
* On count 2 (contravention of Immigration Act), the two accused were sentenced to 1 year imprisonment.
* On count 3 (Possession of a prohibited firearm with no serial numbers), the two accused were sentenced to 6 years imprisonment.
* On count 4 (Possession of unlicensed ammunition), the two accused were sentenced to 2 years imprisonment.
* On count 5 (Conspiracy to commit a crime), the two accused persons were sentenced to 4 years imprisonment.
* On count 6 (Possession of a dangerous weapon), the two accused persons were sentenced to 1 year imprisonment.
The court ordered that count 1 and 2 run concurrently with count 5 (which will be 4 years) whilst count 4 will run concurrently with count 3 (which is 6 years imprisonment). Count 6 will run on its own (which is 1 year imprisonment).
The two accused persons will effectively be behind bars for a total of 12 years.
Both accused were further declared unfit to possess a firearm in terms of Section 103 of the Firearm Control Act.
The Acting Provincial Commissioner of the SAPS in Mpumalanga, Major General Zeph Mkhwanazi emphasised that the sentence should serve as a deterrence to others who might consider perpetrating crime that crime does not pay.