Bloemfontein - A Northern Cape man’s appeal against a conviction of being an accomplice in the unlawful dealing of two ivory tusks was dismissed by the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) on Tuesday.The court gave judgment in the appeal by Herman Zurich against a finding of the Upington Regional Court of being an accomplice to the unlawful dealing in two ivory pieces.
Zurich, an attorney at the time of the offence, was convicted on the basis of evidence of an undercover police agent, Jaco Oberholzer, in a covert operation called Rhino.During the appeal, the admissibility of Oberholzer’s evidence was challenged.
Zurich submitted that evidence against him was tainted by an abuse of the legal process when the police, in order to make Oberholzer appear credible, staged a bogus arrest of him.
The undercover agent then appeared in the Upington Magistrate’s Court on false charges of unlawful dealing in diamonds.
This afforded Oberholzer the opportunity to seek legal representation from Zurich, who then introduced the police agent to the seller of the two ivory pieces.
Methods not unlawful
On Tuesday, the SCA held that although the investigative methods used by the police were unacceptable, it was not unlawful as far as Zurich was concerned and did not render the trial against him unfair.
The SCA upheld the conviction on one count of being an accomplice to the unlawful dealing in two ivory pieces.
Earlier, the Northern Cape High Court sentenced Zurich to a fine of R5 000 or imprisonment for nine months with a further imprisonment for nine months conditionally suspended for three years on the conviction. News 24