After ten long years three poachers were finally convicted after killing a rhino in KwaZulu Natal. The trial took this long because the accused delayed the trial by going through 12 to 25 attorneys.
Since 2008 more than 7000 rhinos have been slaughtered around South Africa, the Kruger National Park have lost nearly half of its white rhinos.
This was the world’s longest poaching trial which came to an end on Monday the 25th of March in Durban, senior Regional Court Magistrate Logan Naidoo convicted the three man based on overwhelming evidence against them.
The three men, Muntugokwakhe Khoza, 50, Ayanda Buthelezi, 40, and SANDF officer Mduduzi Xulu, 51, were arrested on 26 August, 2009, hours after a rhino was killed in the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve, police officers and park rangers stopped them during a roadblock, the accomplices were in a bakkie carrying a .303 rifle, two axes covered in blood and a fresh rhino horns that were freshly hacked off.
The three man claimed to not have known each other but cellphone recordings showed that they had communicated between each other several times during the days leading up to the crime
The horns found with the accused, were later tested using DNA forensic evidence, which confirmed that it was the same rhinos that had been killed at the reserve.
The trial was dragged out by the accused man because they would dismiss their defense team every time they were due to be in court, the trial on Monday was different because the magistrate and senior state advocate made it clear that they were fed up with a decade of delays.
One of the accused objected that he would take the case on review if he was not allowed to have another attorney to represent him, but the magistrate commented that he was welcome to take the case on judicial review at a later stage — but the point had been reached where the accused would now have to conduct their own defense in the closing stages of the trial.
Just hours later, after sitting through the lunch adjournment, the trial was completed with these words: “The accused knew the game was up, the court has a duty to ensure that justice is done and seen to be done and finds that the accused are guilty.”
Hopefully more poachers are found guilty and convicted for their crimes.