Thembi Juliegirl Mangane (37) has been sentenced for rhino poaching after two of her accomplices, who have pleaded guilty, were sentenced in 2021.
Mangane on the other hand opted for a trial instead, which she failed to win hence she was sentenced by the Skukuza Regional Court on Friday, 17 March 2023 to a total of 16 years’ behind bars.
This sentence has gladly been welcomed by the Acting Provincial Commissioner of the SAPS in Mpumalanga, Major General Zeph Mkhwanazi.
The accused’s sentence emanates from a rhino poaching incident which took place on 18 April 2019. It is said on that day, rhino poachers entered the Kruger National Park through the Crocodile Bridge Section where they killed a rhino and removed its horns.
Possibly two suspects managed to flee without being caught however after members of the police were alerted about the incident, a lookout for the suspects immediately commenced. It did not take long for the members to identify their suspects and thanks to the Stock Theft Unit through information provided by the Intelligence structure of the police in the province.
The men and women in Blue discovered that the accused was part of the orchestrated plan to collect and transport the suspects as they came out of the Kruger National Park once they were finished with their mission. The woman (accused) was the driver and the car that was used by the poachers was identified and eventually stopped.
A search was conducted whereby a rifle as well as the two rhino horns, a saw and other items were found inside the vehicle that she was driving. The three suspects were arrested in relation to this incident as well as charged accordingly. They then appeared in court where two, identified as Matsinye Joao Sithole and Vasco Tibane deemed it necessary for themselves to plead guilty.
They were then sentenced on 24 June 2021 to an effective 22 years imprisonment. Due to the fact that Mangane did not plead guilty, her matter was postponed but after a trial, she was sentenced as follows:
On count 1- restricted activity involving a threatened or protected species – white rhinoceros, the accused was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment.
On count 2 – Possession of prohibited firearm, the accused was sentenced to 6 years’ imprisonment.
On count 3 -Possession of unlicensed ammunition, the accused was sentenced to 2 years’ imprisonment.
On count 4 – Possession of dangerous weapon, the accused was sentenced to one (01) years’ imprisonment.
On count 5 – Conspiracy to commit a crime, the accused was sentenced to 4 years’ imprisonment.
The court ordered that the sentence in count 5 to run concurrently with the sentence in count 1.
The sentence in count 3 and 4 will run concurrently with the sentence in count 2.
The effective sentence for the accused will therefore be 16 years imprisonment.
The accused was further declared unfit to possess a firearm in terms of Section 103 of Act 60 of 2000.
The Acting Provincial Commissioner of the SAPS in Mpumalanga, Major General Zeph Mkhwanazi has further thanked the SANPARKS officials, the Investigation team, the Prosecution team as well as the Judiciary for their collaboration in this case which resulted in the well-deserving sentence for the accused. “We hope that the sentence will serve as a deterrence to others who might consider emulating the actions of the accused” said the General.