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On Wednesday, 2 June 2016, Mr Musa Sibiya was sentenced to ten years effective jail time for the unlawful possession of a hunting rifle and nine live rounds of ammunition. Sibiya was sentenced to a further two years for trespassing, which runs concurrently with the ten year sentence.

©Gerry Zambonini

The sentence sends out a clear message to poachers trespassing in South Africa’s first world heritage site; the iSimangaliso Wetland Park.

Mr Sibiya, a 36 year old male from Nongoma, was convicted by Magistrate Norman Nkosi in the Pongola Regional Court, after a trial in which evidence established that Sibiya and an unknown companion (who managed to evade capture) had unlawfully entered iSimangaliso’s uMkhuze section on 18 October 2015 where they were subsequently arrested by the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife field rangers.  He was in possession of a high powered hunting rifle and silencer, live ammunition, an axe, hacksaw and binoculars. These are tools typically used for poaching black and white rhino.

Black rhinos are categorised as rare and endangered by the IUCN, a listing which states there is a very high risk of extinction in the wild. “The black rhino population in iSimangaliso’s uMkhuze section is original – making it one of the most genetically valuable black rhino population globally,” said iSimangaliso CEO Andrew Zaloumis on hearing the sentencing.

“Effective law enforcement is a critical part of our campaign to save these rhino. This conviction resulted from the good work of Ezemvelo rangers under very challenging conditions. Two more uMkhuze poaching cases resulting from Ezemvelo rangers effectiveness are currently on the roll, one for rhino poaching and another for other game.”

Mr Sibiya was defended by Mr Mhlongo of the Legal Aid Board. The Public Prosecutor was Mr Nkululeku Mathenjwa of the Regional Court, Pongolo.

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