A hefty sentence of 34 years imprisonment was handed down by the Skukuza Regional Court against Sipho Titus Khosa (34) on Friday, 18 November 2022.
The sentence stems from two poaching incidents which were carried out in 2016.
It is said that on 27 September 2016, the Section Ranger who was on duty received information about two poachers who were seen entering the Kruger National Park through Stolznek area. Other field rangers were immediately activated and a search began. Two choppers, were also sanctioned and played a vital role as the exercise enabled the team to spot the two males hiding in the thick bushes.
The field rangers ordered the two intruders to come out from their hiding. They complied and were then captured only to be found in possession of two rhino horns, a hunting rifle fitted with silencer, a magazine loaded with eleven live ammunitions as well as two extra magazines, an axe as well as a backpack with food.
Police were summoned to the scene where upon arrival they charged them for possession of unlicensed hunting rifle and for illegal possession of ammunition, illegal possession dangerous weapon, trespassing into the Kruger National Park as well as for killing of rhinos.
After attending court the two accused were granted bail.
Hardly three months later, on 4 December 2016, field rangers working at Stolznek area of the Kruger National Park heard some gunshots then alerted their Section Ranger to help them investigate. A chopper was also used to help in this incident. Sipho Titus Khosa, was amongst the three who were captured that day after trying to run and hide in the bushes.
They were charged accordingly by the police, after being found in possession of a hunting rifle loaded with ammunition, a silencer, 3 rhino horns, an axe, dangerous weapon. They were also charged for trespassing into the Kruger National Park.
Khosa was the only one sentenced due to the fact that his co accused in the first incident never pitched up in court after being granted bail whilst in the second incident, the other two accused were also granted bail but never set their foot in court again.
Nevertheless Khosa was sentenced as follows:
On a count (1) of trespassing, the accused was sentenced to 2 years imprisonment.
On a count (2) of possession of firearm with silencer, he was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment.
Meanwhile on another count (3) of possession of firearm with a silencer, he was sentenced to 6 years imprisonment.
On the other count (4) of possession of firearm with intention to commit crime, the accused was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment.
Then on the count (5) of possession of live ammunition without a permit / license, he was sentenced to 2 years imprisonment.
The accused was sentenced to 1 year imprisonment on a count (6) of possession of dangerous weapon.
He was further sentenced to 2 years imprisonment on a count (7) of trespassing in the Kruger National Park.
The accused was also sentenced to 5 years imprisonment for a count (8) of possession of firearm with silencer.
For one count (9) of illegal killing of a rhino, he was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.
On another count (10) of illegal killing of a rhino, the accused was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment as well then on a separate count (11) of conspiracy to commit an offence of illegal poaching inside the Kruger National Park, he was sentenced to 4 years imprisonment.
For a count (12) of possession of ammunition without a permit, he was sentenced to 2 years imprisonment.
The court ordered that count 7 and 1 will run concurrently. Count 3, 4 and 5 will also run concurrently. Count 12 and 8 on the other hand will run concurrently whilst count 11 and 9 will run concurrently.
Khosa was in fact slapped with a total number of 34 years behind bars. He was declared unfit to possess a firearm.
The Provincial Commissioner of the SAPS in Mpumalanga, Lieutenant General Semakaleng Daphney Manamela further thanked the Field Rangers from SANPARKS, the SAPS team of investigators, the Prosecution team and the Judiciary for their individual roles that they played which resulted in the well-deserved sentence.