Groenewald pilot pays fine for illegal landing in Mapungubwe Park
Helicopter pilot, Johannes Stone paid a fine of R2000 for illegally flying over and landing in Mapungubwe National Park during an air show in September 2011. Stone is employed by Dawie Groenewald, who is awaiting trial on several counts related to illegal trade in rhino horn and contravening the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act.
The incident happened during an air show held in Alldays in Limpopo where SANParks Rangers spotted a helicopter with registration ZS-HBH on the Friday and again on Saturday, 18 September.
It appears the occupants enjoyed a picnic in the Limpopo River. Thereafter the helicopter conducted illegal low flying manoeuvres over the park.
According to SANParks Environmental Crime Investigation (ECI) officers, the helicopter belongs to Mr Dawie Groenewald, but he was not present during the fly over and the subsequent illegal landing in Mapungubwe National Park.
Stone was charged by SANParks ECI officers for contravening Section 47(2) (a) and Section 47(3) of the National Environmental Management Protected Areas Act (Act 57/2003).
SANParks spokesperson Reynold Thakhuli said this incident should be a lesson to those who think they could disregard the rules and regulations that governs the national parks... "We will deal with them decisively all in an effort to protect our heritage."
He said this incident happens against a background of the recent reports on illegal flying of helicopters over some private game reserves in South Africa and the subsequent darting of rhinos from the helicopters.