The Provincial Commissioner of the SAPS in Mpumalanga, Lieutenant General Semakaleng Daphney Manamela has gladly welcomed the sentence that was handed down to a poacher. Rich Ricardo Chauke, aged 23 was sentenced by the Skukuza Regional Court on Friday, 1 April 2022 after his guilty plea to the charges levelled against him.
The sentence stems from an incident in which the accused, together with his two accomplices went for poaching at the Kruger National Park on 9 April 2021 and they illegally entered through the Houtboschrand Section of the park.
It is said that on the said day, the field rangers who were on duty were busy patrolling when they noticed some footprints on the tarred road at Houtboschrand Section of the park which alerted them that there were some intruders. With the assistance of a tracking dog, the rangers began looking for their targets (intruders) whereby the three were hiding in a thick bush.
Two of the intruders unfortunately fled however Chauke was caught by the rangers and he was found in possession of a .458 Win Mag bolt action rifle with no serial numbers, two cartridges of the said rifle, as well as three backpacks and an axe.
Police at Skukuza were notified about the incident and upon their arrival the accused was arrested and charged for trespassing, possession of unlicensed firearm and ammunition, possession of a dangerous weapon, and after police determined that the accused was originally from the country of Mozambique and was in South Africa illegally, a charge of contravention of the Immigration Act was added against him.
After pleading guilty, the court sentenced him as follows:
On the count of trespassing, the accused was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment and for contravention of the Immigration Act, he was sentenced to 1 year imprisonment meanwhile for possession of unlicensed firearm, the accused was slapped with 6 years imprisonment. For possession of unlicensed ammunition, the accused was sentenced to 2 years imprisonment whilst for possession of a dangerous weapon, he was sentenced to 1 year imprisonment.
In addition, the accused was declared unfit to possess a firearm. He will then be incarcerated for an effective 9 years.
The Provincial Commissioner of the SAPS in Mpumalanga further appreciated the collaboration that exist amongst the stakeholders, including the field rangers, the investigation team, the Prosecution Team and the Judiciary which collectively culminated into the desired results. “We hope that the sentence will serve as a deterrence and that people will begin to understand the importance of preserving and protecting nature as well as the endangered species even for the next generation” said the General.