The police arrested four Kruger National Park (KNP) staff members, a well-known ex-cop turned criminal and seven Mozambicans in connection with rhino poaching, the arrests came in the last week and made headlines around the world. According to sources in the Government's official communication corridors, more arrests can be expected soon.
The former cop, Joseph Nyalunga was arrested in Hazyview. He had rhino horn and R60 000 in his possession. The Mozambicans, Timothy Ngcobe, 44, David Lazerus, 29, Carlito Masundu, 25, Santos Smit, 28, Chicco Khoza, 35, Sam Mashaba, 36, and Sello Zitha, 35 were arrested over the weekend.
"During the arrest of other suspects, police seized over R5 million in cash, several television sets, electronic devices, guns and 54 hunting knives that were recovered from four houses situated in different areas in the province," said national police spokesperson Vishnu Naidoo. Naidoo said the eight faced various charges, including the contravention of the Endangered Species Act, possession of property suspected to be stolen and money laundering.
The eight were not asked to plead when they appeared in court on Monday. They were remanded in custody and the case was postponed to 12 March for bail applications. Nyalungu resigned from the police three years ago after being charged with involvement in a syndicate smuggling cigarettes and vehicles to and from Mozambique.The KNP staff who had been arrested are employed in the conservation and protective services departments - two as field guides, Duncan Mnisi, 34, and Charles Mabunda, Tiyani Mabunda, 28 is a field ranger at the Pretoriskop section and Doctor Ngwenya, 31 serves as a traffic officer. They were also not asked to plead and remanded in custody, pending further investigation.
The four suspects are linked to an incident in which tourists found two rhino carcasses in Kruger on February 28. Since the beginning of February, most of Kruger's field rangers (204) have been on strike. KNP spokesperson William Mabasa said, negotiations were ongoing to end the strike.
Since the strike began, police officers, soldiers, former rangers and honorary rangers have been standing in to perform ranger duties. The striking workers are demanding equal payment for employees tasked with the same responsibilities.