“Police received information about suspected poachers who would enter the Kruger National Park through the Phalaborwa Gate, with the aim to shoot and dehorn the animals in the park.
“Police were on alert and at approximately 19:00 last night, the suspected vehicle with five occupants was spotted in the parking area of a shopping centre in town,” said Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi.
The police closed in and arrested the five suspects after confiscating a 1.4 hunting rifle and silencer, eight pieces of live ammunition, a butcher’s knife and an axe.
The vehicle in which the suspects were travelling was also confiscated.
The origin of the firearm is currently being investigated and it will also be sent for ballistic tests.
Three of the suspects are from the Giyani area and two are from Mozambique. They are expected to appear in the Phalaborwa Magistrates’ court on Thursday on charges of the illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition as well as charges under the National Environmental Biodiversity Act, which include conspiracy to commit the crime of rhino poaching in the Kruger National Park.
The Provincial Commissioner of the SAPS in Limpopo, Lieutenant General Simon Mpembe, commended the team for their sterling work and reiterated that the police in Limpopo would fight tooth and nail to prevent the poaching of rhinos in the province.
Mpembe further reminded the community that an award of up to R500 000 could be paid to any member of the public who can provide information that will lead to the arrest and conviction in court of suspects involved in rhino poaching or dealing in rhino horns. – SAnews.gov.za