Tue. Oct 22nd, 2019

Rhino poaching: Case against Zululand kingpin to proceed after numerous delays

rhino poachingD-day looms for Rhino poaching kingpin Dumisani Gwala after more than 20 delays since his arrest in 2014.

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Dumisani Gwala, the leader of KwaZulu Natal’s biggest rhino poaching syndicate, was arrested in December 2014 after an extensive undercover operation. During his first court appearance, he was granted bail of only R10 000.

As reported by Tony Carnie from Sowetan Live, Gwala finally arrived at the Mtubatuba Magistrate’s Court on 24 April. He pleaded not guilty to 12 charges related to attempted murder, resisting arrest and trading in rhino horn.

This follows after more than 20 delays over the past five years. Former Hawks investigating officer Detective Warrant Officer Jean-Pierre van Zyl Roux took the stand and details his history with the case:

He received intelligence about a syndicate operating from the Manguze area in KwaZulu Natal and explained that the syndicate had a “pyramid structure” with fixed leadership roles.

He confirmed that Gwala was on the third tier, which included transporters, intermediaries and horn buyers based in Johannesburg.

The top tier – the fourth level – was composed of kingpins based in Vietnam and China, while the bottom tiers were made up of hunters, game rangers, armed guards and traditional healers.

The trial was cut short when Gwala’s co-accused claimed to be feeling ill and was allowed to rest outside the courtroom for several minutes. When his condition didn’t improve, his attorney asked for the hearing to adjourned to 25 April.

While this was granted, State prosecutor Andre Symington warned Gwala’s legal defence that he would not tolerate a “situation where there are possibilities for future appeal on the basis that the accused was possibly unable to concentrate or follow the proceedings.

Symington suggested that Gwala’s co-accused, Aubrey Dlamini, be assessed by a medical professional who would provide the court with an assessment on Dlamini’s fitness to continue attending court.

The hearing was also attended by IFP’s Chief Whip in Parliament, Narend Singh, along with the party’s Advocate, Anthoney Mithcell. The party said in a media advisory yesterday:

“The IFP will continue its calls for specialist wildlife courts in South Africa as we continue the fight for the preservation and well-being of our wildlife from local and international criminal poaching syndicates.”

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