Cape Town – Three convicted rhino poachers have been denied bail pending the outcome of their appeal in the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA).
Jabulani Ndlovu, Forget Ndlovu and Sibusiso Ndlovu were convicted on charges relating to 10 different incidents of rhino poaching in the Eastern Cape. The charges, dating back to 2013, included theft of rhino horn, attempted theft of rhino horn, and contravening sections of the Cape Provincial Ordinance on Nature and Environmental Conservation for activities involving injecting an intoxicating agent into the animal.
They were each sentenced to an effective 25 years behind bars. In one of the incidents on Bucklands farm in Albany, the horn of one rhino, named Campbell, was stolen after the animal was killed in June 2016. Campbell was darted and his horn was removed in a way that traumatically exposed his nasal airways, causing his death.
At the time of their arrest, the men were found in possession of, among others, Campbell’s freshly removed horn, a tranquilliser dart gun, darts, Etorphine tranquilliser, a yellow bow saw, rounds of .22 blank ammunition, two knives, a side cutter pliers and a cordless drill.
On July 5, the SCA granted the trio leave to appeal their convictions on limited grounds; and against their sentences, "on the basis that a Full Bench may find their sentence shockingly inappropriate”.
In the Eastern Cape High Court in Port Elizabeth, their application for bail was denied.
The document read: “Coetzee for the State argued that even if the SCA found that the seizure of the items in question were unlawful because of the failure to obtain a warrant and the evidence obtained was inadmissible (an unlikely prospect according to the State) there was other evidence presented which was not bedevilled by the question of admissibility.”
Judge Elna Revelas added that their personal circumstances were not compelling enough to justify the granting of bail.
“There is little doubt that the applicants have been convicted of many and very serious, heinous crimes. Unfortunately, as (Judge) Pickering J pointed out in his judgment on sentence, that the applicants do not appear to grasp the enormity of what they have done.
“One of the consequences of being convicted of a serious offence is a substantial custodial sentence and if the convicted person was the only breadwinner, his family will suffer financially. That may be a tragic reality, but it does not equate to an exceptional circumstance sufficient to justify releasing the application on bail.”