The Provincial Commissioner of the SAPS in Mpumalanga, Lieutenant General Semakaleng Daphney Manamela has welcomed the recent sentence imposed upon a rhino poacher. The sentence was handed down by the Skukuza Regional Court against Million Masilane (48) on Friday, 19 January 2024 for rhino poaching related offences.
The court heard how Masilane, together with his accomplice, Lot Baloyi entered the Kruger National Park through Pretoriuskop Section with an unlicensed firearm back in March 2020.
They reportedly killed two white rhinoceros and removed the animals’ horns.
The Field Rangers employed by the South African National Parks (SANPARKS) realised that there were intruders inside the Park and it was during this time that the rrangers began to trace the two men.
In the process, Baloyi is said to have tried to scare everyone who was pursuing them by firing some shots. Instead of retreating, the field rangers followed them and eventually managed to apprehend both of them.
The Rangers alerted the Skukuza SAPS members and the accused together with his accomplice were arrested then charged accordingly.
An unlicenced firearm as well as rhino horns were recovered at the scene. Thereafter, the two were taken to court and later, both Masilane and Baloyi were granted bail but they decided to abscond from attending court as they were being anticipated to show up for the case. This led the court to issue Warrants for their arrest.
The men and women in Blue at Skukuza worked tirelessly and their hardwork paid off as they managed to trace and arrest Masilane in Calcutta area on 11 October 2023 however Baloyi is still at large but that did not deter the court from carry on with the case.
As a result, on that Friday (19 January 2024) Masilane was convicted then sentenced by the Court as follows:
– On Count 1 – trespassing in a National Park, the accused was sentenced to two (02) years imprisonment
– On Count 2 – killing of two white rhinoceros in a National Park, the accused was sentenced to ten (10) years imprisonment.
– On Count 3 – possession of unlicensed firearm, the accused was sentenced to five (05) years imprisonment
– On Count 4 – possession of a prohibited firearm (no serial number), the accused was sentenced to six (06) years imprisonment.
– On Count 5 – possession of a firearm with the intention to commit a crime, the accused was sentenced to four (04) years imprisonment
– On Count 6 – possession of unlicensed ammunition, the accused was sentenced to two (02) years imprisonment
– On Count 7 – conspiracy to commit a crime, the accused was sentenced to four (04) years imprisonment
– On Count 8 – possession of a dangerous weapon, the accused was sentenced to one (01) year imprisonment.
The Court ordered that sentences on count 1 and 7 to run concurrently with sentence on count 2 and that the sentences on count 3,5,6 and 8 to run concurrently with the sentence on count 4. Therefore the accused was sentenced to an effective 16 years imprisonment. The accused was also declared unfit to possess a firearm.
Meanwhile the Provincial Commissioner of the SAPS in Mpumalanga, Lieutenant General Semakaleng Daphney Manamela has further acknowledged with much appreciation the job well done by the Field Rangers from SANParks, the Investigation team, the Prosecution team as well as the Judiciary.