Image by: MIKE HUTCHINGS / REUTERS
Five suspected rhino poachers have been arrested in Phalaborwa, apparently while on their way to the Kruger National Park, Limpopo police said on Wednesday.
Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said they were taken into custody on Tuesday night, after the police were told a group of suspected poachers intended entering the park through the Phalaborwa gate.
“Police were on alert and at approximately 7pm last night [Tuesday], a suspected vehicle with five occupants was spotted in the parking area of a shopping centre in town,” said Mulaudzi.
He said the police closed in, arrested the five and confiscated a 1.4 hunting rifle and silencer, eight pieces of live ammunition, a butcher’s knife and an axe. Their vehicle was also seized.
“The origin of the firearm is currently being investigated and it will also be sent for ballistic tests.”
He said three of the men were from Giyani and two were from Mozambique.
They were expected to appear in the Phalaborwa Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.
Mulaudzi said the five would face charges of illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition, and charges under the National Environmental Biodiversity Act.